Getting Leadership Support

Your role tends to be very misunderstood by leadership, although the reality is that your job is very complex and extremely important for your agency. How you talk about what you do is the key to earning support.

This video features a few clips of remarks by Government Social Media CEO, Kristy Dalton, known as “GovGirl” in the government tech industry, at the 2019 Government Social Media Conference in Nashville, TN.


Your Job is Difficult - here's why

People who manage social media in government are in one of the most difficult fields for social media professionals.

The reality is that your job is tremendously complex. As someone who handles social media in the public sector, you manage social media during emergencies, you have to consider First Amendment and public records issues, you need to know the nuances of adeptly using humor, and you're a big part of your government brand's online presence.

Your job is NOT something that an intern can handle. This role comes with a lot of stress, high expectations and limited resources. How we talk about what we do is extremely important in teaching leadership how to support us.


Teach Leadership How to Support You

  • Every SocialGov manager should stay on message that what we do is an extremely difficult, highly complex job that involves great skill. We need to communicate the value of our roles and the tremendous level of expertise we have.
  • Start talking to leadership about how they can support you. Use messaging that positions yourself as the skilled communicator who wants to protect your agency's online reputation. “This is a difficult, highly skilled profession. I’m here to protect our agency and to share our message, and here’s how you can empower me to do so.”
  • Talk about how part of your role is to mitigate risk for your agency. Mitigating risk involves taking steps to reduce the adverse affects of negative situations. Your job may involve preparing the public for a number of emergencies and building a large social media audience in order to communicate critical safety messages should the time come. You also use your customer service mastery to diffuse comment situations with upset citizens - sometimes even turning them into agency champions.
  • Sometimes leadership isn't aware that you’re responsible for filtering through extremely negative and many times awful comments and content because you have an obligation to help your citizens and respond to legitimate questions. They may not understand that responding to comments is an art in itself - mastering the use of tone, empathy and articulation. During a particularly negative situation, ask them to support you by assigning another staff member (a highly capable and trained communicator) to take turns monitoring comments during those times. 
  • Use viral social media FAILs from other agencies and private brands as teachable moments to explain to your boss why it went wrong. Leadership gets understandably nervous when they see very public social media FAILs, but you can showcase your expertise using terminology such as, "This was a viral fail because the company should have known that a tragedy is never an opportunity for product placement."


Many social media managers in government have been successful in changing the culture and earning leadership support. It takes work, but we as a SocialGov community can get there. Get more support from your peers by joining our free network.


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