Most organizations are rather protective of their official voices on social media channels.For good reasons: they don’t want to risk being misunderstood, being kicked out of countries because of ill-phrased retweets or creating policy by accident. The downside of this is, that the official Facebook pages and Twitter feeds of many NGOs and UN agencies are rather dry and boring and had all life sucked out of them.
Turning Twitter into an “all-staff” channel
For the next six weeks, Greenpeace UK will try a different approach: anyone in the organization who has a personal Twitter account and has signed up for the experiment, can push their tweets to the main Twitter account by adding the hashtag #gp to their tweets. As their “slightly nervous” web team says: “What could possibly go wrong?”
Diversity of individuals
While this approach would make me a little nervous as well, I like it more and more, the more I think about it. Rather then being the voice of the institution, the Twitter channel becomes a mirror of what the staff members have on their minds. The result will almost certainly be more interesting and engaging than the usual dry press releases. I can see how this could lead to a very interesting dialogue between Greenpeace staff members and their supports over all kinds of topics.
A question of training and trust
Granted, for Greenpeace it’s slightly easier to do that than for the ICRC, MSF, UNHCR or other organizations who work in highly politicized conflict regions where a critical tweet about a government could mean the end of an aid-programme. But in my experience most people are very responsible and only very few are stupid enough to endanger their own jobs by ill-considered messages on public accounts.
It all comes down to training and guidance: have you explained to your staff what social media is and what kind of messages are and aren’t acceptable? Then you should be able to trust them. And if you can’t trust them, then you haven’t trained them properly.
What do you think? Would you open your Twitter account to all staff members? Leave a comment below.