via Danielle Walley

Local Governments do a lot of great work which is rarely fully appreciated.  In the past, a lot of the complaints towards local councils were in private and around the dinner table.  It was feedback the councils never saw, but also didn’t damage the brand.

Most Government departments and councils have been quite late adopters of social media as a communication channel.  In fact a recent survey by the ACELG  found that a lot of Australian Councils were still a long way from getting to grips with Social Media, finding that only 46% of councils still disallowed social media use at work, only 26 per cent have a social media policy and only 21 per cent train staff in social media.

So to understand how to better harness the opportunity that social media provides government, we were lucky enough to be joined on this webinar by the Social Media Officer at Brisbane City Council –Tracy Whitelaw .  The slides are below but also a recording of the webinar is embedded within (just scroll through the slides to the end).

But Tracy was able to break out the top five ways in which Social Media can help government departments in a new communications environment that is more transparent, engageing, targeted and real time.

1. Crisis Communications.  Brisbane’s most recent crisis was the terrible floods that hit Southern Queensland in January 2010.  Tracy explains how as the crisis kicked in, the corporate website was unable to keep up and the Council decamped its entire communications channel to Twitter and Facebook.  Social Media as a channel is so much more immediate and effective in terms of getting messages out and crowd-sourcing information in.  (Tracy’s experience here is invaluable so worth listening to the audio for this alone)

2. Engage at Government Scale.  This reprises the feedback issue raised earlier.  It does require some culture change within government but to carry the community with you on new Government projects is essential.  The way in which Social Media that can be used to target certain communities, areas or locations – or even different demographics.  Different channels serve for different purposes – you need to be where your audience is.

3. Social Service Delivery.  A Government Department should today handle Social enquiries just as they do through the phone or the mail.  From queries about lodging a Development Application to complaints about road degradation should all be services that government can deliver via social channels

4. Research & Consultation. Government Organisations need to engage with their community through social media and get ideas from them. Most Organisation start by listening to people talk about them only, but it is equally important that you follow similar organizations that are like yours. Of course the real insights are around “What matters to your customers”, not to you! It is  important that you use a Social Media tool that reaches across various social channels so you don’t miss out on those important conversations that are effecting, your business and your customers.

5. Social Marketing. Its NOT  just for selling products. Social Media is best used when you consider 3 main concepts for your communication content. Once you have all three concepts covered, you can then use Social Media to amplify that message to your target audience. This type of social media strategy is very powerful and allows the target  to rethink their impression of your organization, by removing the faceless mask they have known in the past, and engaging with content that is easy and enjoyable to consume.

5 Ways the Public Sector is Maximising Value from Social from Derek Laney