Facebook in the public sector – lunchtime digest from #fbps12

Yesterday I reported from an event in Glasgow exploring the use of Facebook in the public sector. Organised by Public Sector Customer Services Forum and Comms2point0, the event enjoyed an impressive line up of folk doing some great stuff with the social media platform de rigueur.

You can review the tweeting via the hashtag #fbps12, but here’s a short “lunchtime digest” of the morning sessions:

Removing barriers

There are loads of ways to remove the barriers to using social media, as well as getting buy in – talk in senior management language, talk to the people who can say “yes”, get someone senior to be your advocate, and start small to build the case.

Opening up Facebook

Monmouthshire did it and the world didn’t end. IT systems didn’t crash, productivity didn’t suffer and no one made an idiot of themselves. Organisations don’t usually make a habit of employing people they don’t trust, so show that trust by empowering them to use these tools.

Facebook: why and how

The stats speak for themselves. There are 31 million people in the UK who use Facebook, three times as many as buy a daily paper. Top tips for getting Facebook right include “sharing the sweets”, surrendering control and letting all staff have a go and trusting them to do so, and going out and engaging people where the already are. Be genuine – don’t automate updates and keep it relevant. Be responsive – people expect things instantly, and we need to meet those expectations. Be relevant – people are far more interested in following small specific accounts that are relevant to them, rather than big authority-wide accounts publishing corporate messages.

Coventry are doing some great things with Facebook…

Partly thanks to the brilliant idea of just calling it “Coventry” – after all, who wants to be a fan of a Council? After a modest but solid start, their following enjoyed a huge boost when the snow came, rocketing from 527 followers to over 11k in two weeks. 50% of those were kids, desperate to know if their school was closed. A perfect example of how important it is to make it relevant to real people.

FB and emergency planning

Facebook and social media has become crucial in an emergency. For preparing, raising awareness of what people can do to be ready if the worst should happen; for warning and informing, getting messages out quickly and offering a more resilient platform compared to local sites which may go down; for recovering, helping to coordinate the community and boost morale; and for reviewing, looking back at what worked well and how it might be improved next time, informing future emergency planning.

Going beyond Facebook…

we heard about the potential of sharing your content through the likes of Wikipedia and the Creative Commons licence, reaching a wider audience and opening up new possibilities you may not have thought of. Social media is all about sharing, and we’ve got content that people want to share.

(note: this was originally published on my own blog. Comments welcome here or there. Further reports to come)

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Michael MacAuley 9 Years Ago
Nice post James Especially like the Coventry story. We are doing our bit here with Khub to show the benefits of 2.0 in the workplace. Hopefully the powers that be feel like experimenting with 2.0 via this platform will increase their confidence and trust, helping them get over 'the fear'.