Home > Innovation, Social media > It’s time to “think crazy”

It’s time to “think crazy”

Yesterday, I had the honor of giving a quick update about my employer’s social media strategy to several hundred attendees at the Ohio Job and Family Services Directors Association’s annual conference in Columbus.

My employer, the Hamilton County Department of Job and Family Services in Cincinnati, has embraced social media as a way to improve accessibility and transparency. The department sees social media as an avenue for taking pressure off of crowded waiting rooms and busy phone lines. It’s a powerful way to build mutually beneficial relationships with key audiences.

We need to innovate and break the mold because we’re seeing record caseloads at the same time that we’ve encountered severe budget cuts. Half of our employees have been laid off or retired in the past two years.

Douglas Lumpkin, the state JFS director, gave an inspirational talk to start the morning. He urged directors of the state’s 88 county JFS departments to “think crazy” — to innovate, to try new things. He talked about some big changes counties have implemented to speed health coverage and food assistance to those in need… at a time when they’ve got reduced resources to deliver those services.

And, with the state facing an $8-billion gap in the two-year budget that begins in July 2011, the need for creative solutions grows even more imperative.

As he left the stage, Director Lumpkin whispered in my ear about helping the audience understand how to use social media to serve its clients. In his remarks, he spoke about the growing power of social networks such as Facebook.

It’s a scary, yet exciting, time. Budget restraints and the slow-but-gradual economic recovery bring on lots of fear. But the rapid growth of new technologies — and open-mindedness toward using them — add a rush of excitement.

It’s time to “think crazy.”

Side note: With innovation comes a need for guidelines. In that vein, here is a link to our recently developed social media policy. Also, here’s the PowerPoint presentation that I shared with the directors.

Also: Just a reminder that the views shared on this blog are mine and not necessarily those of my employer. I do this blog in my spare time as a way to share what I’ve learned and gain more hands-on experience with social media.

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