The Rubbish Side of Social Media Users

September 16, 2013

Over the years I’ve been using Twitter, blogging and other social media I’ve noticed the reticence of some users, particularly from public bodies such as police, central government and arms-length government organizations to take part in a conversation. Locally, in York, I follow the police who both maintain a dialogue and make Tweets interesting to followers by adding humour (where appropriate), safety and security advice, along with road closure warnings. In contrast very recently, being unable to find a way to complain to Greater Manchester Police I tweeted my complaint with a strong hint of sarcasm, I obviously failed miserably when a day later @GMPolice made a favourite of it!

This similar approach has been used on the regional offices of central government failing similarly when they don’t even respond. I’ve got so use to the local council not responding to Tweets or emails that I now just don’t expect it. In contrast, some councillors (but not many) willingly maintain a dialogue or move it to email, whilst others might as well not bother having a Twitter account. I notice that a number of bodies such as the Environment Agency are encouraging managers to have Twitter accounts on their behalf, whilst the same individuals do not have a publicly available email account. I take this as a symptom of the risk aversive nature of such bodies, when they don’t want individuals appearing to speak for a ‘department’. The same people are, by large, also averse to holding a dialogue in Twitter but happily tell us the details of their day-to-day work (yawn).

A lot of this I take to being the absence of a good policy and training. If bodies are going to get themselves involved in social media they need to accept complaints and compliments by it, as well as posting interesting stuff, but less of the day-to-day drivel, please!

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Not bovvered

June 17, 2010

On the 4th June, whilst helping my wife on the drive of the house, my son left my digital camera on the roof of her car. The pair then drove off realising some fifteen minutes later that they didn’t have the camera. They turned around and looked for it at the site i.e. the road we live on, without finding it.

Being informed that evening of what had happened, I thought that rather than ‘phoning the police of a Friday evening, when they’d be busy with the drunks up town, I’d inform them via their website on the off-chance that a local person might have picked it up and handed it in. Whilst most of the local residents are the salt of the earth, some are the scum off it, so the chances were quite limited.

Where once there was a “report an incident form” on the web site I hade to search around and find a general report form, which stated that although the incoming mail weren’t immediately read, the folder was checked for any reports at least every 24 hours and directed to the right place. So, job done I carried on investigating possible insurance claims.

A little while later an automated response popped into the inbox but that was the last I heard. By the following Thursday evening I was annoyed at not even getting an email saying “not handed in, sorry, incident number 9999”, so I emailed again. This time, along with the automated acknowledgement came an email saying the matter had been passed to the “oic” with a request to contact…

The following Tuesday I found a voicemail on the home ‘phone stating that he hadn’t received the email until nearly midnight, didn’t think I wanted a reply and as there was no record of it being handed in had recorded it on the lost property system.

What’s wrong with the above approach?

1. It took 11 days to get a reply (after chasing six days after the original notification)

2. On the original form it asked how I wanted to be contacted and I’d asked for an email response (not a ‘phone call)

3. Not a sniff of an apology. In fact the officer concerned sound aggrieved that I’d disturbed him!

LESSON for NYP – If public services are going to develop web sites, they need to be for the public’s convenience not theirs.