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Socially Awkward: What does a snake named Rocky Balboa have to do with social media?

We got a snake! Never in a million years did my husband and I think we would be the owners of a snake, but that's what you get when you take your kids to a reptile show! I got caught up in the fever. My daughter looked so happy holding that baby snake. I thought at the time that the snake was a low-maintenance, allergy- free pet option.

After the purchase, however, as we were setting up the now-named Rocky Balboa in his snake mansion (because my husband had to get the largest cage he could fi nd), I couldn’t help thinking, “Oh goodness, what did I do? I have to feed it frozen mice, (which are now stored in my freezer)! What if the snake gets out? What if it bites us? It’s supposed to live for 30 years; that’s a big commitment!” I actually tossed and turned, thinking all these things the night after we slithered into snake ownership. And then … it made me think of social media!

Some government agencies or businesses are afraid to take that fi rst step into social media. They may think they don’t know enough about it or that they need to have an extensive plan or policy in place prior to setting up a site. Then there are those who worry after they get started (like I did with Rocky Balboa) and think to themselves, “Oh my goodness, what did I get myself into? What if no one follows me? How do I get people to like me? I have to feed this site information! What if someone posts something negative (and bites us)? This is a long-term investment!”

Well I have news for you. It is a long-term investment. Social media is here to stay. The medium may change, but people want to be social. Like Nike says, “Just do it!” If you haven't started your organization’s social media site, what are you waiting for? Don’t let your fears and doubts keep you from joining the social conversation. Read books, ask experts, Google, watch a video on YouTube, and attend conferences. (You wouldn’t believe how many videos there are on caring for snakes!) Find someone similar to you who has social media savvy and do what they do. The more you do, the better you'll become. As Expertenough. com's manifesto states: “It's not about being the world's greatest expert. It’s about being expert enough to achieve your goals.”

Here are a few steps for beginners:

• If you need a policy, fi nd out what other companies do. Don't reinvent the wheel. You can check out our policy at in the notes section. It's short and simple.

• Post pictures on your Facebook site – it’s a visual medium! One of our most popular posts recently was a photo of a sign on Franklin’s Main Street. The message was universal and touching.

• Have fun, and speak in a conversational tone.

• Respond to questions or comments the same day. Most followers have short attention spans.

• If you do get a negative comment, deal with it! Correct any misinformation or offer an apology if you or your company made a mistake. Try to make it right!

• That being said, sometimes you have to let them have the last word. Cut your losses and move on. You can’t please all the people all the time.

So as I said to myself about the new prized pet snake after my night of tossing and turning, “You only live once, so go for it!” Take a deep breath, face your fears and enjoy the ride. And, by the way, anyone want to buy a pet snake? Just kidding.

Milissa Reierson is the communications manager for the city of Franklin. Follow the city at, cityoffranklin, and

Posted on: 4/11/2013


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