Today is the second day of the GOV49 Communication Delivery and Social Media in the Public Sector conference. Yesterday I chaired the proceedings and delivered a presentation on the use of social media for advocacy campaigns.
Today’s sessions looked at the day-to-day usage of social media, through government programs and in emergency management. Insights included the New Zealand earthquake where social media was used to disseminate information and provide updates on the recovery efforts. The presentation also discussed the importance of keeping backup information, particularly when electricity and computer networks are unavailable.
My presentation looked at the various social media tools and how they can be utilized to assist the public sector in being able to engage the community. I looked at the most prominent tools, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and discussed their strengths and potential usability for the public sector. Like most technologies, social media is increasingly being used across all age demographics, with people aged 5 plus being the fastest growing users of Facebook.
Email still has an essential role in reaching communities and the number of email accounts overshadows the use of social media. Email, like most other tools, can be integrated, providing the option to share content via Facebook, Twitter or other networks.
Integrating these tools saves time by reducing duplication and the need to write multiple content. In addition, the use of sharing assists in promotion by encouraging recipients to distribute content through their networks.
While it is imperative that there are clear guidelines and policies for social media usage, this should not be used to deter its usage within an organisation. There should be the clear identification of official spokespeople and individuals should use social media to support these official roles.
The official spokespeople should be the people that respond to difficult situations and seek to resolve these issues. It is often advisable to resolve situations outside of social media by demonstrating a responsive approach and following up with additional details if required.
Social media can be used effectively by the government and the public sector. Ultimately it is important that the public sector is part of the conversation that occurs on social media so that it can respond and be part of this discussion.
The community will be discussing government and policies and the public sector should be part of this discussion, just as it is within traditional media outlets.
The two-day conference provided several insights and examples of social media within the public sector.