Updated (21 June 2009): I made the notes below as the session was in progress and I won’t change those.

Paul hosted this session around the work going on in Derby to listen and capture the conversation’s happening in the online space related to the area. Paul tracked this on mindmeister.com although the map he’d produced is not generally available yet.

He had searched across many networks, including the main online gathering spaces at the moment of Facebook and Twitter, to show which groups and individuals were participating in conversation about the area or about the authorities / public sector organisations in the city.

Potential issues around gathering this information and different methods of doing so were discussed as well as highlighting how this information can be a useful tool for showing the organisation the conversation is going to be happening with or without their involvement – at the very least they need to listen.

Discussion moved on to cover social media policy / usage and participation guidelines and the need for these given existing internet and email use policies. The discussion also covered the issues around the blurring of personal / professional identity online and what work or responsibility organisations have to make employees more aware (potential education task rather than policy task).

Really interesting discussion over a broad topic and a lot of great examples from a range of councils.

Notes taken during the session (posted 20 June 2009):

Are we listening hosted by @paul_cole

  • At different places with projects and also personal social media enthusiast.
  • Using mindmeister to showcase something he has developed around the subject
  • Shows what they think is going on to show what they are missing out on. Started on Facebook (nodes) to show groups, pages etc to map what conversations are going on.
  • Jack Pickard (@thepickards) – done something similar but less mapped. just poking around found existing groups.
  • One group (in Derby) has 600 members – more than at any public meeting…are councils integrating comments into meetings / consultation
  • Also mapped employee personal profiles
  • Manual process.
  • Brigton doing from opposite way – identify audience then go to networks to find relevant people.
  • More credence to citizen led groups for citizens – more trust
  • Easy to find people talking about you on Twitter and other networks.
  • Houston, we have a problem – no, houston we have an opportunity.
  • Can hear the discussions and then act accordingly.
  • Brighton looking to recruit a social media officer.
  • People are having conversations without the council – up to council to find and jump in
  • Change the way the organisation is perceived.
  • Wealth of information out there.
  • May be communicating with one citizen at a time but all worth it
  • Many organistions use Twitter etc as broadcast channel – good baby step to pursuade stakeholders to allow you to start
  • Not about the technology, about confidence to have the conversation. Gradual process to build confidence.
  • Small steps – but get involved. @danslee – diving in from day one like being trendy uncle break dancing at a wedding – people who can dance think it’s appalling but gets others up on the floor!
  • Camden started Twitter as emergency response to bad weather but from there kept it going and started being more conversational
  • Just by putting the toe in the water is a move towards providing services to citizens and they can see the council is doing something – even if they’re not doing much or well at first
  • keep going at it, if the answer is no today, it might not be tomorrow.
  • show what they are missing out on
  • need to show be benefit of engagement, allow relevant employees to attend and use their learning and networking – today good example- we’re all here on our day off!
  • blurred lines between professional and personal relationships of social media / comms staff using networks. how much is work? what is allowed?
  • are HR telling employees what they can / can’t do? outside of work hours you are still representing organisation. have been sending staff off to events without being able to manage but now can see what staff are up to in their own time – managing organisation representation online
  • starting to develop social media usage guidelines – updating internet / email use policy. can share our draft guidance with anyone interested. Jake Pickard interested in seeing draft policies.
  • simple guidance – what’s out there is public, permanent. informal relationships – if you’re blogging someone to run it past. ‘
  • under contract not to badmouth organisation – covers social media too. code of conduct. highlight this also applies online.
  • how do you raise your voice as a citizen when also an employee? #staff #citizen lol
  • never off duty – comments and personal pictures can be used against the organisation! can reap benefits from the flipside
  • can be used by council’s to convict benefit cheats – this could be concerning – invasion of privacy – but online isn’t private the way most people use it!
  • moral issues rather than technology issue. journalists now can do the death knock online – example of Express / Dunblane survivors
  • younger people don’t view privacy in the same way
  • people forget and send wrong things – @glinner phone number, Croydon council on Twitter
  • Channel 4 about to launch a game to educate children about privacy online
  • we’re set on digital engagement and moving people to online space from offline but we are still learning – how can we support and encourage when we don’t fully understand the possibilities / consequences of our actions?
  • unique and different channel for engagement. different audiences within the space.
  • reach out to different, hard to reach audiences. Deaf community huge users of Bebo (pos. due to less constrained language). Lots of Eastern European migrants – use Facebook to keep in touch with family. Stats somewhere on demographics for networks – will try to find!
  • @paul_cole started off by ward but biggest groups are emotive groups. names impact on popularity form meta-communities.
  • Are same people joining many groups across networks? Are these the engaged people anyway, just using another channel?
  • Mentioned our election Twitter and Facebook and how members were different – not following on both feeds except small number of people.
  • Working out how to engage not just be marketed at. Have smaller feeds for specific groups.
  • If all you do is RSS you will get companies, journalists etc. If you do it manually and converse you will get people engaging with you. Better response to having a voice – have a personality don’t be personal! Issues around this – see old post about our Twitter.
  • Who does this out of hours etc – back to the line between on / off duty being blurred!
  • Lots of tools to manage – Hootsuite, Tweet Later etc…
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