Tools are simple – iincreasingly out-of-the box designed solutions mean that anyone can be a publiserand millions of people use them every day - 300 million active users on Facebook with around half visiting daily. There are 50,000 members on the IDeA’s Local government communities of practice site.Even though you don’t have to know how a car works to drive it, you do need to know where you’re going in order to get there. Although you don’t need to be a tech wizard, you do need to know how sociaLinteraction works online, who you’re targeting, what for – and it doesn’t hurt to have good content and key messages.
Too often the types of interaction that we see online are described by the tool name as shorthand, a bit like hoovering for vacuuming. But it isn’t about the tools.
But the important thing is that social media isn’t necessarily Facebook or Twitter, it’s about extending connections and conversations. Making views more accessible and discoverable.
Society for New Communications Research – www.sncr.org
Targeted and tailored communicationsMonitoring conversations online (not in some creepy Big Brother way) but to take action to solve problems, counter misunderstandings, or provide information to help groups access servicesCheaper and faster...over £10 for a face to face transaction, less than a £1 for online transaction...Cities in the US are opening data and allowing or encouraging developers to provide useful applications for citizens allowing people to access services and information in more personal and customisable ways – Washington DCs apps for Democracy claimed a ridiculous 40 fold return on investment, but even a much smaller roi is a huge benefitGovernment will be getting smaller, social media provides the potential to support community provision of services more effectively – allowing Government to be a convener of services rather than a provider.
The tools are easy to get to grips with, more important is to make sure they’re applied appropriately and to the right audiences. Start small, with one or two tools, evaluate as you go. And there’s a great local government community that’s willing to help. The IDeA is also looking at how we can support or encourage support for councils to access peer to peer learning around the best use of social media.
Well, it is and it isn’t. Much of social media is easy and accessible. But good conversation, consultation, listening, facilitation and communication skills take time and effort to develop. We don’t expect people to find their public speaking voice the first time they step onto a stage. We don’t expect the first report someone ever writes to be a masterpiece. That doesn’t mean we don’t do it. And just because many people do these things, it doesn’t mean we don’t respect those people who do it well.There are skills and talents in social media and online facilitation which should not be taken for granted.And as Mark Evans explains in his 5 social media myths, there’s some hard slog, too:a successful social media campaign consists of working it every day and making small, but constant, gains. It means hours of effort to monitor, track and engage with people on dozens of platforms.
We’ve all been to public meetings with some blowhards who try to hijack the public agenda – and that person has a cousin who likes to go online. Even worse, a public sector site should never be the home of racist, sexist homophobic nonsense – and there are plenty of people who’ll be more than happy to make comments like that. But most people are OK , so as long as the rules are clear and you’re prepared to intervene when necessary, it will work out OK.Public services – rightly – are constrained by many rules – so encouraging active civic discussions need not take place on local government sites, but that means letting go.
Have to recognise that Interacting with citizens through social media will mean that officers are publishing content that isn’t controlled by communications officers. But we have to recognise social media means that conversations are taking place outside traditional roles of content.As more people are communicating more messages, mistakes will be made. Active management is the only way to deal with this, monitoring conversations about the area, ensuring that staff understand parameters for personal and professional communication and that mistakes are kept in perspective. Staff that are trusted to speak at events which can be recorded, tweeted, blogged, etc – should be trusted to communicate to citizens online.
Local government is a big employer...chances are that someone within your council has the skills and interest to help find the way ahead. That doesn’t mean that you can’t bring in help as required, but while there are a lot of people who’ve earned their stripes in local public services, voluntary sector or pro-social entrepreneurship, there are a lot of self-proclaimed experts out there.
Social media is really about conversation, sharing formal and informal information. Gossip may seem trivial, but it’s an important part of the social fabric. Much of what takes place on social media may seem trivial, too – but a lot of it’s not...and when it’s about you, your organisation, your councillors – then it’s not trivial at all.
Social media is radically transforming where conversations can take place. It’s puts the power of publishing into anyone’s hands – a huge shift in the control of information. So we shouldn’t underestimate its importance, but we can’t imagine that it will solve everything either. Just as the printing press shook up power and information, it didn’t mean the world became rosy. And just as it’s easier to publish great things...it’s easier to publish nasty things too.
Early social networking research has shown that use of social networking actually increases face to face interaction among existing contacts (Kraut 2002) contradicting earlier findings (when only sad and lonely people were actually on the Internet ) And online neighbourhood level social networks supporting a sense of community and increasing the number of neighbours they knew (www.web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2004/ineighnors.html )
We’re looking at changes to the way we do our business at the IDeA, including developing a social media strategy which is based on using social media for more peer based support for improvement and efficiency including taking advantage of the efficiencies of social media to exchange learning.We’re also thinking about how we can support councils to help each other understand how to use social media more effectively to communicate with citizens, from officers – Members and more.Data – across the LGA group we’re looking at how we support better interchange and use of linked data between councils, partners , central government and more importantly citizens.
A model of the Knowledge Hub – moving on from us producing content to helping convene content exchange between local govt practitioners and partners.
Changing the way we do
business<br />Three quarters of GenY choose retailers and products based on others’ customer care experiences shared online <br />What implications for politics?<br />What implications for personalisation <br />and co-production?<br />
Efficiency Exchange<br />Efficiency<br />CoPs<br />Peer<br
/>Challenge<br />Benchmark<br />Data<br />Self <br />assessment<br />Best Practice Resources<br />Efficiency Exchange<br />Best Practice Collaboration<br />Allows users from participant authorities to develop and actively share best practice knowledge<br />Self Assessment<br />Data collected from councils helps highlight where greater efficiency can be achieved.<br />Peer Challenge<br />Peers from other authorities review the assessment and provide direct feedback<br />Benchmarking<br />Authorities able to review their data and compare with benchmark data collated by CA<br />Best Practice Resources<br />Community repository of current best practice principles<br />