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!


Anti-social media

November 11, 2012

Whilst I am much less skeptical about the use of social media in government than I used to be, like email it is set to become a big part of the of the job, in the same way that handling email has become a major part of the day-to-day of everyone from junior officers to chief officers. My only question then is – who does the original job?

LearnStuff have put together a little video on how social media is affecting productivity entitled Social Media at Work. My question remains – who is doing the work that was done before email/social media, or is that no longer the job? Now, what did I used to do?

 


Understanding social media

September 11, 2011

Thanks to an eminently useful blog post on the London School of Economics (LSE) web site entitled ‘Social media is inherently a system of peer evaluation and is changing the way scholars disseminate their research, raising questions about the way we evaluate academic authority’ I was referred to a recent paper by Kietzmann, Hermkens, McCarthy & Silvestre from Business Horizons (2011) 54, 241-251 .

Whilst the blog post to some extent reflects the work I have been doing by using social media as a research implement, and part of which I’ll be covering on 15 September 2011 at the Ethicomp 2011 conference, whilst focusing on ‘The Ethical Aspects of Employing a Weblog in Research’, the paper referenced looks to social media in the round for all business, not particularly government. However, given the ongoing debate about the value and use of social media in government, the proposition is highly appropriate.

The model consists of seven social media building blocks constructed into what Kietzmann, Hermkens, McCarthy & Silvestre describe as the honeycomb of social media. These two sets of seven-celled honeycomb describe ‘social media functionality’, along with ‘implications of the functionality’. As Hermida states these ‘building blocks’ offer a good starting point to consider the impact of activities as part of academic research, but I’d suggest these seven have a further application in the governance arena and I look forward to experimenting with them.


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!


The Final Edition?

January 27, 2010

The Government ICT Strategy having been incrementally revealed by both the Government CIO and the Opposition appears in its final form today, 27th January 2010! The full report is available on the CIO section of the Cabinet Office web site along with a video introduction by John Suffolk. The fact that the PDF is numbered ‘4’ indicates it’s had a couple of updates since last year!

The report and two subsections are available on that wonderful web site writetoreply for those who want to comment on a paragraph-by-paragraph basis.

To start with a gripe, the document comes up with a new slant on exclusion (page 8) i.e. those who are excluded from traditional methods, such as the young people for whom ‘Frank’ was put in place for. How they are excluded from face-to-face and telephone is news to me, since they are able to use them, it’s just not fashionable when you are of a certain age, unlike those who are physically excluded by disability or lack of ability.

There are also plenty of mentions of ICT being used for service delivery, but this does not appear to be past the back office. At a local level we still have face-to-face and telephone customers and they aren’t converting to the web overnight. We still have to deliver a range of applications to mobile officers, elected members, home workers and those sharing premises with others, in and out of government.

There is also mention of security but the recent heightened security measures in local government, which were probably well needed, have still caused various issues with democracy and service delivery at the grass-roots.

With the recent launch of data.gov.uk I would also have expected some mention of making datasets public, and whilst there is mention of brands of XML, I didn’t spot topics like RDF in there, which is one current topic of conversation when talking open data. If data from local government is to be made public, data and metadata standards will need to be embedded in the developer community and time taken to implement them!

Overall I don’t think it’s vastly different from version 1 and I don’t imagine much different under any government. Central government makes heavy use of ICT, so it’s about time they started procuring, running and using it all with some central control, with the least cost-to-desktop possible. For local government and some government services things may be slightly different but singing from the same hymn sheet might lead to us singing the same song, even if not quite in tune.

As well as ‘data.gov.uk’, I also searched on ‘democracy’, without success, so we are obviously not getting involved in the politics of it all! Similarly for ‘Web 2.0’ and ‘Social Media’.

Might we now see a ‘process strategy’ so that we sort them out before sticking greener and wizzier ICT all over the civil service?


Going native

January 7, 2010

A recent presentation from America’s Pew Internet entitled “Network Learners” demonstrates why we have to be imaginative when it comes to employing the new media and not just treat it like  newspapers, TV or the media we’ve been used to since people learned to communicate.

What is most interesting is the development of the digital natives themselves. They have developed, as one would expect, within the technology they’ve grown up with. So, as I’ve always argued, trying to focus on generation X, Y, Z or whatever it is, from a government approach, is an impossible task, since the goal posts are far from stationary.

So what do governments do in the circumstances? I don’t have a specific answer, but I believe that if we are to jump on every passing development, we’ll waste further money on top of that which already been wasted on poorly planned e-government. That’s not to say we don’t experiment with them, if we have time, or watch out that they don’t become more than a fad but I suspect there are a lot more to come before we get an answer!


Social Media Analytics

January 5, 2010

I took the simple approach to social media metrics in a recent posting but jumping across to the “Occam’s Razor” blog I get another view from Avinash Kaushik, the evangelist at Google.

Avinash provides an analysis of some of the current analytic tools around for Twitter, but he does point out that he picks out the metrics important to his personal strategy. That’d be the next question – how many of us actually have a strategy for Twitter? I do and it’s a very simple one, so I only need a simple metric – mine’s about broadcasting my other research instruments, so I’m actually less conversational than some.

There were actually 23 comments against the lengthy post, so a fair few other proposals for other tools such as the Whuffie Bank but importantly it’s accepted that social media analytics is not about the “single source of truth”, as one commentator put it, it’s about knowing what you are doing and then employing what measures you discover to give you the feedback you need!

So, Twitter becomes an art form in its own right, along with the analysis!

I’ll stick to the simple method, with all the academic stuff I don’t have too much time to play…

Happy experimenting!