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public sector Archives - Syneka Marketing

Engaging through Social Media

Embracing Social Media is Good Public Policy

By | Advice, Advice for Businesses, Advice for Not-for-profit Organisations and Charities, Government | No Comments

Social media is becoming increasingly prevalent in public discussions. Governments, like business and not-for-profit organisations, need to embrace social media as a legitimate discussion tool.

If Facebook were a country, it would be the third largest in the world with a population of 955 million. Twitter with its ability for quick messages and fast re-tweeting is increasingly being considered a valid news source for journalists.

Social Media is part of Web 2.0, which incorporates the development of feedback and discussion through the Internet. Several social media tools have been developed, including Myspace and Friendster, but more recently Facebook and Twitter have entered into mainstream conversation. Like many aspects of the Internet, new tools are just around the corner, including Google+ and image sharing through Pinterest.

Social media can enhance public policy by encouraging broader participation, including discussion and the ability to explain decisions. Encouraging this discussion can increase transparency and provides a sense of ownership over policy. In particular, social media can be useful in reaching demographics that tend not to respond to other forms of consultation, or are able unable to attend traditional consultative meetings.

In Australia, the community safety authorities are increasingly using social media to reach younger people, given that traditional media is having a lesser impact. For example, the Transport Accident Commission (TAC) is heavily utilising social media to influence behaviour by demonstrating the adverse effect of speed in motor vehicles. Recently, Metro Trains embarked on the Dumb Ways to Die Campaign to generate cut-through for a rail safety message.

Social media is ultimately a form of media and its use should be considered as an extension of media management. The public sector should utilise social media to convey information and engage members of the public, just as spokespeople would utilise television, radio or print media. Policies governing the use of social media are particularly important with official spokespeople being clearly identified.

The designated spokespeople should be the only members with access to official accounts and should always deliver new announcements. Other staff should be allowed to comment within their area of expertise, once they have undertaken appropriate training. The training content should include acceptable use of social media and an understanding of public domain information. Secondary spokespeople should only comment within their appropriate areas of expertise and alert the official spokespeople of adverse comments.

The Victorian Department of Justice has prepared a video guide on its social media policies. Typically, we would recommend a similar approach and find this works well for government, as well as businesses and not-for-profit organisations.

It is important to maintain a positive approach to social media and this means there are times you need manage negative comments.

There is a difference between negative and offensive comments. Offensive comments, such as discriminatory or hateful remarks should be removed immediately. Negative comments should be engaged rather than removed, showing that their concerns have been treated seriously. Where possible, it is often advisable to work through negative comments in person or through the telephone. Providing an offline response enables you to convey detailed information that may be difficult to discuss through social media.

As your community develops there may be members that respond on your behalf and assist in providing positive feedback. Community engagement and participation is a positive sign and shows the sense of ownership and belonging that has been created through social media.

Used effectively, social media can increase transparency while providing insights into governance processes. Like any method on engagement, it requires policies and guidelines for acceptable use.

Social media is no longer an instrument that can be ignored, but must be considered as a tool requiring engagement and participation. Social media is being used to convey opinions and it is better to be a part of this, rather than simply ignoring the discussion.

Day Two of GOV49 Communication Delivery and Social Media in the Public Sector

GOV49 Communication Delivery and Social Media in the Public Sector – Day Two

By | Advice, Government, Presentations, Resources | No Comments
Day Two of GOV49 Communication Delivery and Social Media in the Public Sector

Day Two of GOV49 Communication Delivery and Social Media in the Public Sector

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.

GOV49 Communication Delivery & Social Media in the Public Sector

GOV49 Communication Delivery and Social Media in the Public Sector

By | Government, News, Presentations | No Comments
GOV49 Communication Delivery & Social Media in the Public Sector

GOV49 Communication Delivery & Social Media in the Public Sector

GOV49 Communication Delivery and Social Media in the Public Sector is a two-day conference held in Sydney to explore how social media and online communications can be used effectively by the public sector.

The conference is being organised by Tonkin Corporation and I was approached to present two sessions as well as to chair the event.

I was invited to provide a forward address:

Government and its representatives cannot afford to ignore the impact of social media.

If Facebook were a country, it would be the third largest with a population of 955 million. Twitter with its ability to quick messages and fast re-tweeting is increasingly becoming a valid news source for journalists.

Social media can enhance public policy by encouraging broader participation in discussion and the ability to explain decisions. As government we can help increase transparency and provide a sense of ownership over policy. In particular, social media can be useful in reaching demographics that tend not to utilise traditional forms of consultation.

Used effectively social media can increase transparency while providing insights into governance processes. Like any method on engagement it requires policies and guidelines for acceptable use.

Social media is no longer an instrument that can be ignored but must be considered as a tool requiring engagement. Social media is being used to convey opinions and and it is better to be part of this discussion, rather than simply ignoring this discussion.

Attend Communication Delivery and Social Media In the Public Sector to discover how you can utilise social media to engage and be part of the discussion

I’ll be in Sydney for most of the week as part of the conference and look forward to meeting the delegates over the two-day event.