Social service

October 26, 2011

A new report from Dr Jonathan Carr-West and Rob Dale of the LGiU, with the support of GovDelivery examines the digital tools in use by UK local authorities and the potential cost savings. The 34 page PDF entitled “going where the eyeballs are” is available from GovDelivery (If you go through the LGiU it expects you to be a member).

Much has been reported in similar reports extolling the virtues of social media but there is some useful stuff gathered together here including a promotion for Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council’s Facebook page entitled BwD Winter, although the piece fails to mention it’s on Facebook, which is not necessarily a good thing, however, it may demonstrate that creating and isolating a practical use of Facebook may stop the abuse or avoidance that usually comes when councils employ that tool.

The authors also pick up on ‘social listening’ with councils able to gain some limited analytics about their social media mentions through Social Mention or Google Alerts, whilst reminding us that Facebook and Twitter owning your data limits any statistical feedback, resulting in even more limited and largely anecdotal evidence for any take-up. There is also a reminder that email still has far more users than even trendy Twitter.

The report concludes optimistically that “local authorities need to remove all barriers that prevent access to social networks”, along with skilling up their staff and invest in IT that promotes innovation, which may be a step too far in the financial climate…

*Declaration of interest – I was one of those surveyed

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Social media as a channel

February 7, 2010

I’m not sure whether social media is a service channel but it’s certainly one for feedback. A short report from Right Now clarifies this and explains, obviously in order to sell their product, why we should take notice. The little pamphlet is entitled “Customer Service Meets Social Media – Best Practices for Engagement”, and you’ll find it on their web site. Even more appropriate for me is the term “engagement”, since anyone who has looked at my model will realise I promote “Citizen Engagement Management”.

I wonder how many councils even employ “Google alerts” on a daily basis to find out whats being said about them, without delving into the different social media? If you don’t I should get on with it!

However, the Right Now publication does offer some important guidance, such as (p.3): “Another major difference between traditional contact channels and social media is that when you respond, your conversation is often visible to a large audience” and on the same page and perhaps more importantly: “social media accelerates and democratises publication, which means consumers can create content about your organization.” The development of the alternative Birmingham City web site #bccdiy was one example with all the local and national social media debate that followed.

The report also provides a list of eight simple questions entitled “Before you get started”, which can be employed in many ways, and in many media, but check that you are prepared for the venture before you waste too much time and money on it, or before it comes back to bite you on the bum!