from Amanda – Social media tips: Arm yourself for the social revolution
Carl Hagerty – Social Media Policy and Guidance http://carlhaggerty.wordpress.com/2010/04/07/revised-social-media-policy-and-guidance/
6 Essential Steps for Executing Your Social Media Strategy
HOW TO: Evaluate Your Social Media Plan http://mashable.com/2010/06/25/evaluate-social-media-plan/
The issue of whether an organisation blocks or bans access to social media platforms has always been an interesting area. When speaking to colleagues in other councils who are not able to access, a common reason why access is blocked is due to a perceived fear that staff will simply waste time “messing about” or “chatting online”. It has been a personal desire to look for an approach which directly links the success of an organisation to the use of or at least access to social tools.
Without having any direct evidence – I’ve had to look to theoretical models and frameworks which help to explain the relationships between an organisations performance and the ability of staff to use and engage with social software, social media, enterprise 2.0, social business or whatever the current trend is for naming the variety of tools available.
Last week however a key part of the puzzle presented itself, in the form of a set of slides which I linked to in my previous post by Richard Veryard.
This is my current view is the all public sectors organisations need to unblock access to all social tools (external), and promote the use of social tools (internally) otherwise they restrict and reduce the chance for the organisation to improve its performance.
Given the current financial and organisational pressures facing the whole public sector, improving performance would be a key priority. The very least we would all agree that reducing barriers to improving performance should be a priority. This is where I now firmly believe that Social is the key to improving organisational performance.
I’ll try to give some context to my thinking by referring to some of the slides that Richard posted. I apologise in advance for some of the complexity in the following paragraphs – believe me I have tried to keep it as simple as possible without losing the meaning
In “Modelling Intelligence in Complex Organizations”, my observations and interpretation of some of his slides are as follows:
Slide 5 – Cognition only makes sense for individuals
As individuals we seek out data/information, in doing this activity we essentially bring a meaning to that data/information and in turn provide the interpretation and therefore we create and often share an understanding.
Organisations can not perform the same tasks, as organisations can only aggregates the collective view of all people within the organisation by bringing together – perception, knowledge, learning and intelligence. This in the past has been restricted either to formal systems which require facts and statistics and would not include people’s views and opinions. The social element to an organisation would be in the informal social networks facilitated by water coolers and coffee machines.
Slide 7 – The illusion of individual performance
Individuals perform tasks which are supported by a variety of systems, the slide highlights 3 examples, but in a public sector context, this is even more relevant. For example an individual local government officer has a complex system environment, which could include Peers, Press and Media, local demographic, local political influence, national political influence, training, policy framework etc.
Essentially an individuals performance is the result of the ‘systems’ own restrictions and ability to achieve and facilitate outcomes.
So what I’m thinking in relation to this is that when an organisation restricts the “social” element within it, it actually restricts the ability of the system and the individual to achieve better outcomes. By providing “social” tools the organisation gains access to a greater organisational intelligence. I believe that the Knowledge Hub would in fact allow the public sector organisational intelligence to grow and in turn help facilitate better outcomes across the whole sector.
Slide 20 – Intelligence Strategy
In my post Move aside Intranet, here comes the super powered Extranet I share the vision for my authorities intranet/extranet and considering this new viewpoint, what that is contributing to is in fact the organisations Intelligence Strategy. The main benefit of integrating the Knowledge Hub into the core infrastructure of the council is the increased connections that it provides for each individual member of staff. It will provide them with a larger organisational intelligence system and my conclusion would be that this contributes directly to better outcomes for citizens and improved services.
In the second set of slides “How Can IT Fix the Problems of Stupid Organizations?” – I have thought about the wider linkages to a range of core business activities and capabilities which are and will become more critical in public sector environments even if they choose to adopt a commissioning agenda.
Slide 23 – Tools for organisational intelligence
The key challenge for publica sector organisations are not related to individual issues such as business intelligence, social networking, knowledge management and even customer relationship management (CRM), but are in fact how you plan and architect the links between these kinds of tools to achieve and facilitate organisational intelligence.
So the main takeaway for me is that ICT can directly improve the performance and intelligence of an organisation – however an organisations architecture needs to be designed with this outcome in mind otherwise you will fail to deliver the benefits.
I would recommend that any public sector organisation who is blocking access rethink that decision and consider how there organisation facilitates organisational intelligence and improved performance.
On a practical level, staff who abuse access should still be subject to existing policies around employee code of conduct – but the potential for a whole organisation to improve its performance and increase its intelligence far outweighs the risk of one individual mis-using an internet connection, which they can also do via their personal mobile phone.
Following on from Andrew Beeken’s post about Lincoln City Council’s Social Media Journey in response to SocITM’s Helen Williams. I include the response that myself and Russell Taylor have provided for Devon County Council.
1. Why have you chosen to use the social media channels you have, and how did you go about building a successful presence?
We chose platforms that had a high volume of users and therefore an element of penetration with local citizens. In terms of building a successful presence, we initially reposted and fed content via the councils RSS feeds in order to learn how the tools worked and to allow time for staff to grow in confidence around using the tools appropriately. We try to ensure that content is relevant and timely as well as expanding our responses and conversation due to resource constraints.
I think the biggest increases in our presence (followers, messages, referrals) have always been linked to the promotion of topical current events and information like elections, extreme weather, budget consultations, and campaigns etc. So we try to promote these events through our social media channels when ever it’s appropriate.
2. How are you using social media? (e.g. corporate communications tool managed by comms / service specific news from individual services themselves / campaigns / engagement tool / customer service / promotion of the local area)
We are using social media in a variety of ways – corporately we have Facebook, twitter, vimeo, blogs, flickr and some services have also developed a presence – for example libraries have used flickr to show photos of library refurbishments. It is an evolving approach and we are constantly learning how to best take advantage of particular social media tools either through opportunities such as extreme weather or by learning from other councils or other organisations we also promote via website.
As Carl mentioned we use social media for a number of things and learning as we go. Our earliest use was for corporate communications in Twitter and Facebook. Our press releases were published into these channels. This then expanded to include announcements/promotional messages requested from other departments/partner organisations (e.g. events, alerts and campaigns).
We also try to help other organisations spread their important messages. Our YouTube channel includes many other organisations (Emergency services, DirectGov, NHS) videos in our playlists to help increase their reach. We also retweet other organisations messages were appropriate to help spread the word on important announcements (e.g. District council updates on road closures)
3. How long have you been using social media and who is involved?
we set up twitter 2.5 years ago (not sure when Facebook was created) and is has been driven primarily by the webteam with increasing contributions from other parts of the council
At the moment the Corporate Web Team publish most of our none automated content. However as we increase awareness of social media throughout the council more of our messages are requested by other departments. We are also in the process of training users from our Customer Service Centre so they can publish their own message and provide support.
4. Who’s in charge and do you have a strategy / policy? (eg, is it comms / web / services / corporate policy or chief execs)
We have a social media policy which is documented and approved, but do not have a formal strategy. However our unwritten strategy implicitly implied by the policy is to allow and encourage access and usage, linking to business outcomes and outputs, whilst managing and mitigating risks and reputation damage. We also encourage sharing any learning across the council and wider
No one is formally in charge although the chief executive is social media and social networking champion.
We do not currently have a web manager who would be seen as a key driver in progressing and co-ordinating this activity further
5. What benefits do you see from your efforts in this area (to your organisation or customers)?
Here are some of the benefits we have seen from using social media:
- ability to rapidly communicate messages to a vast number of people either directly or via retweets and “likes”
- access to low cost development tools to reduce the cost of web development in some areas (blogs etc)
- 2 way engagement and communication with people from Devon and wider.
- the potential to reach people who may not normally visit our main website for information.
- ability to share richer content e.g. video, photos etc (YouTube, Vimeo, Flickr)
- mobile access – social media isn’t a 9 to 5 channel so being able to update the feed from home or on the move can be extremely useful when there is a requirement to get messages out quickly (e.g. Extreme weather/events)
6. How do you manage your social media activity? (automation, monitoring tools / software?)
For our automated messages we use RSS feeds connected through Twitterfeed. We link our Twitter and Facebook accounts using Hootsuite which we also use to monitor our mentions and references to Devon County Council.
7. What tips would you pass on to others?
Don’t try and solve every problem, start with small projects and grow and scale them up. Engage with people inside and outside of the council. Learn from others and adapt quickly. Stay positive and promote the channels via your main website
Think about who your audience is and what information they would be interested in. Is your audience different for each social network? If so consider altering the content/tone for each. It can take time to increase followers/awareness so don’t expect too much too soon.