$60,000 a year to Tweet?

tweeterlistening to the weekly podcast “Word on the Tweet“, a show that focuses solely on all things Twitter, the Multnomah County, Oregon Social Media Coordinator Position was one of the topics of conversation.  If you’re not familiar, Multnomah County is looking to hire someone to use social media networks like Facebook and Twitter, which may not have caused all the attention if it weren’t for the salary. The county is looking to pay this social media guru $60,000 to $70,000 a year.

Needless to say, those of us who felt like the description of the appropriate candidate was tailor made for us are hoping that more counties, as well as cities and towns will follow suit. But there are plenty of others out there that feel that the county is willing to pay a ridiculous amount of money for someone to ‘tweet’. Especially amid cutbacks in other areas.
I’m not going to debate the value of a social media coordinator, nor am I going to get on my “social media marketing is not child’s play” soapbox.  What I want to point out is that Multnomah County understands what many other county governments, cities, towns and businesses don’t.  The future of effective communication with constituents, clients and customers lies in social media. It’s not only a great communication tool, but it’s marketing potential is huge.

Unfortunately, too many people are repeating the same mistake that was made when the Internet was the newfangled way to reach people. They are discounting the potential and thinking it’s a fad. And like the early adopters of websites, people that are seeing the potential in social media early are being seen as foolish for jumping in with both feet.
But just why would a county government be willing to pay someone to ‘tweet’?  One of the biggest issues of any type of government, but especially at the county, city or town levels is communicating with their constituents.  Jeff Parsons, a Maine radio personality and co-host of Word on the Tweet, mentioned a vote for a new school in his town that was to take place, one that he would have voted on if he’d realized when it was taking place. Social media is a way for local governments to connect with their residents and get them more involved.
How many times do you think a town has planned an event, even spending lots of money to do so, and only had a handful of people show up because local residents weren’t aware it was going on. Unless your town has a huge budget and can purchase advertising time on TV or radio, it’s highly unlikely that word will spread like wildfire.  Until now.

Now, by using social media avenues you can spread the word quickly, easily and in many ways more effectively than tradition methods.  A ‘tweet’ is likely to gain more attendees, voters, etc. than a flyer posted somewhere ever will.
I don’t feel the big deal about the Multnomah County Social Media Coordinator position should be focused on the amount of money they are willing to pay someone to do the job, I think the focus should be on how many other counties, towns, cities and business it will cause to sit up and take notice.  Will others be wise enough to see what this Oregon County sees and get on board with social media too?


Tina Marie Hilton provides online technology services to forward thinking businesses. She writes on her Tips from T.Marie business blog to share insight and information with other small businesses and entrepreneurs. It also makes her feel like that certificate in creative writing isn't going to waste completely.