Sunday, 16 January 2011

Social media use in the public sector

I've been reading around a number of reports and articles on the use of social media in the public sector - how to make best use of the tools available and encourage responsible behaviour amongst staff. It's interesting that the same points are coming up again and again.

A few things I've taken away from this reading:

  • Use social media for specific purposes with specific audiences. Go where they are. Be clear about what it is you're trying to do. A Facebook presence just for the sake of it won't achieve anything much.
  • If you can't measure it, you can't manage it. Monitor the channels you're using along with website usage stats to gauge where your effort is best spent.
  • The more you spend, the more control and ownership you get. What level do you need and why? Chances are, building your own version of something that already exists doesn't make much sense. 
  • Have a lightweight social media policy in place to guide staff and set expectations of professional behaviour.
  • Trust your staff to behave responsibly. They represent the organisation in person, on the phone and via email so why shouldn't they be able to engage via a social network? The benefits outweigh the risks.
Local by Social: How Local Authorities can use Social Media to Achieve More for Less - outlining how local authorities can use social media to achieve more for less. It also highlights the risk to councils if they ignore the technological advances of social media and the people using them.

So you need a social media policy... - blog article by Jennifer Doak for CASE - what the policy should say and why it's important to have something in place. Lots of example policies from US universities. 

Social Media in the Social Services - a report by IRISS - "The challenge for all councils now is to move social media off their list of challenges and on to their list of opportunities. If they don’t, they face moving into a changing world under equipped and under-resourced." The references page of this report includes links to lots of additional related reading that I'm just beginning to work my way through.

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