June 29, 2009
Following rapid and significant expansion into new markets and sectors of governance and policy, innovative union of nation states (“European Union”, or EU) seeks an experienced:
Online Community Manager
to gain buy-in at all levels throughout our 27 Members, as well as with external stakeholders on a global level.
You will be responsible for engaging EU citizens via social media on EU policies, programmes, achievements and failures, as well as its possible future direction.
The first and principal aim is to help those involved in EU-level policy development and programmes to use social media to better achieve their goals: for example, by linking together national communities across linguistic barriers to achieve cross-EU exchanges of ideas and best practices; or by facilitating and stimulating meaningful dialogue between citizens, national and EU policymakers.
While this position may involve creating new online communities, you will wherever possible exploit existing platforms, or link existing communities on different platforms together through intermediate systems.
Your initial focus will be policymakers and EU programme participants who are already involved in online communities, as they constitute an existing, motivated network of people familiar with social media.
In the process, you will also reach other members of these communities – i.e., citizens not directly involved in EU programmes and/or policy development, but who are interested in the community’s theme of interest. You will therefore need to be able to explain the logic of ‘EU added value’ in various fields to people who, while not specialised in European affairs, are interested in areas affected by the EU.
If you are successful in either task, you will also be demonstrating ‘EU added value’, concretely, every day.
A secondary aim is to engage all community members in a wider debate about the EU’s programmes, achievements and future directions in their field of interest, and to be their advocate internally within the EU policy development process.
This is therefore not a marketing position – it is public relationships, not public relations. You will embody qualities such as openness, sincerity, transparency, honesty, generosity and the ability to admit mistakes.
In summary, this position therefore aims to simultaneously:
- help EU programmes improve their participation rates and disseminate their results;
- widen policy debates to include more voices outside of the ‘Brussels Bubble’;
- improve awareness of ‘EU added value’ in all EU policy areas to the increasing number of citizens active in social media;
- help turn the EU’s image from faceless and secretive to open and trustworthy.
To succeed in this position you will need to drive major internal cultural changes throughout the EU Institutions – for example:
- stimulating, championing and then coordinating similar engagement by other EU Institution staff;
- driving the reorganisation of the top level content of our current “Web1.0” online presence (particularly EUROPA) to support this engagement. Priorities here will be ensuring EUROPA explains EU added value in terms non-specialists can understand (e.g., thematically, geographically, by audience type, etc.), to better support the online conversations you will be undertaking;
- advocating the community’s voice in internal debates (‘bringing the outside in‘), and opening internal debates to the wider community (‘taking the inside out‘).
All of the above activities will be strongly cross-Institutional in nature, spanning all Institutions and all Commission departments (DGs).
This is because social media users are not expected to learn the internal structures of the EU or the Commission. Moreover, worthwhile online conversations will need to be underpinned by clear, concise ‘discussion document’ materials relating all EU policies and programmes – not just those of one particular DG – to the subjects and themes addressed by the online communities you will be working with.
You will therefore need to show strong aptitude for change management in large, complex, multicultural organisations; the ability to create, stimulate and coordinate barrier-breaking cross-Institutional networks; strong interpersonal skills; and a high degree of commitment.
You will also be the face of the EU in these online communities, so you will need to be both thick-skinned and courteous in the face of trolls, self-appointed citizen journalists, closet xenophobes, accredited-journalists-with-no-respect-for-balance, and embarrassingly jingoistic ex-daytime-TV-hosts.
Experienced in social media and online communications in general, you are an excellent listener as well as writer, able to explain EU added value clearly to non-specialists in all areas of EU policy, in most if not all EU official languages, whilst avoiding propaganda, condescension or jargon. You will also be expected to solve the multilingualism challenge in both ‘Web1.0″ and user-generated content contexts.
Timing and Questions
You should be available to begin your duties on 1 July, 2014, shortly after the upcoming elections to the European Parliament.
If you have any suggestions, questions or recommendations regarding this vacancy, please use the comments function below.Mathew Lowry