Pretty Simple: web, digital, social



Today I’m reporting 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 is enjoying an impressive line up of folk doing some great stuff with the social media platform de rigueur.

You can follow the proceedings via the hashtag #fbps12. If you’ve struggled to keep up, though, here’s a short “lunchtime digest” of the morning so far:

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…

Coventry's Facebook page

Coventry on 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.

Facebook 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.

This afternoon we’ll be hearing about how the police are using Facebook, followed by a unconference session which will hopefully bring out lots more exciting chat and great examples of good Facebook use. Stay tuned!

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2 Responses to Facebook in the public sector – lunchtime digest

  1. Ben Millard says:

    It might be better to use <h2> instead of a sentence of <strong> at the start of those paragraphs?

  2. James says:

    Cheers Ben. Wrote this on my iPad with limited WP functionality. Have now fixed.

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