Every week being full-time on comms2point0 has been quite literally an
adventure. One of the adventures was to write social media guidance
for part of the public sector that is struggling with it. Health and Wellbeing Boards are where the NHS, charities and councils come together to make billions of pounds of spending decisions.
The Local Government Association (LGA) listened to members who said they were struggling in this area and commissioned us to draw-up some guidance. It is with huge pleasure that I saw that the LGA published Connecting Health and Wellbeing Boards: a social media guide.
If you think that guidance for this arcane corner of the public sector
has nothing for you, I’d ask you to swing by and take a look. I think
you’ll find some principles that can help you out whereever you are.
Climbing a challenge one step at a time
So, how do you persuade organisations and people that don’t use social
media to start using it?
There was a long list of things that health and wellbeing boards should be doing. Live tweeting meetings, posting slides used at meetings to slide sharing website slideshare and using social media to listen are all there.
But nobody wants to look at Mount Everest on their first day in walking boots.
So, we made it easy. We made slow steps possible. We created five steps – or five stars – that made progress not only possible but measurable.
We made the first star deliberately easy. All you had to do was post the date and time of your meeting on a social profile. Simple. Congratulations. You’ve got a first star. As any walker will tell you
once you conquer your first hillock your eyes turn more readily to something a little bigger.
That, we think, is the powerful and encouraging thing that can make these guidelines work.
What I’m most proud of is that we didn’t just write this in a vacuum.
We asked the online community and the offline community too. My role
as author was less a writer and more a facilitator. What should these
guidelines look like? Gemma Finnegan at the weekly #nhssm chat which discusses social media in the NHS steered two discussions that had a profound effect. I don’t have my name on this document. I have
comms2point0′s logo. But we have thanked everyone who conrtibuted to
those discussions and the survey which shaped it. I also spent a lot
of time chatting to people. If you want to look at an authority doing
a trailblazing job look at Louisa Willoughby at Sheffield City Council
and Cllr Simon Allen at Bath and North East Somerset. And some of the work that @claireOT has done in sketching out what things could look like.
Thanks also to Kristian Hibberd who has now left the LGA for pastures new and to Laurence Meehan and Caroline Tapster who remains.
We used data
We surveyed people and we used those results to shape the discussion.
* 53 per cent thought their council uses social media badly for health
and wellbeing boards.
* 81 per cent are in favour of live streaming.
* 83 per cent said that space should be given to the public to ask questions at meetings.
We had five basic principles
From my time in local government, I’ve been in favour of a framework of
basic principles rather than a dogmatic policeman of highly prescriptive. Nobody wants the guidance that says you must use MySpace. So we came up with this:
- Be engaging: interact wherever possible with users and reflect the
• Be timely: post information at a time that is most convenient or
relevant to the audience.
• Be jargon-free: use language that works on the platform of choice
without jargon and language that people outside the health and
wellbeing board would struggle to understand.
• Be connected: look to share content from partners and from across
the public or third sector where is relevant.
• Be informative: look to inform and to educate.
The #nhssm discussion of the LGA health and wellbeing board guidelines
takes place between 8pm and 9pm on Wednesday November 19.
But I’ll bet you think that you’ve nothing to say and not many people will find what you are doing interesting, right?
Good news. You couldn’t be further from the truth and by taking part you’ll be lending your voice to create a far louder noise around an area that no doubt doesn’t always shout about itself.
Back in 2010, me and some colleagues staged #walsall24 which was the first real-time Twitter event in local government. We won the first LGComms gold social media award and for a day the borough was the centre of the digital universe. People from across the council used Twitter to post the day-to-day things we were doing.
We’d taken the idea from Greater Manchester Police and tweaked it. It’s great to see others now take the idea and tweak it further so it’s the voice of a sector and not just one authority.
The #housingday initiative has grown from strength to strength as a way of telling the social housing story. Like any success, it has many fathers. But Ade Capon from Yorkshire Housing is the man responsible for first taking the plunge.
Here’s 10 ideas to help you make the most of the day
- The more mundane it is to you, the more interesting it is to them. Trust me. Everyone thinks they do a fairly dull job. To others its madly interesting.
- Tweet the little things. Tell people about the drain cover you just fixed, the window you are replacing, the meeting you’ve been to. It all builds a picture.
- Take a picture. A picture tells 1,000 words and when you’ve only got 140 characters that’s pretty useful. People like pictures. They get shared more too. You don’t have to be David Bailey.
- Take a video. With Instagram you have about 14 seconds of video that can be shared to Twitter.
- Take some audio. Soundcloud is a cracking app that lets you record people talking. Ask someone to say who they are, what they do and what they are doing today. Then share it to Twitter.
- Share some content. Press the retweet button and share what other people are doing.
- Ask a question. Ask what people think. Ask the for their own experiences.
- Follow a member of staff. Pick someone who does a frontline job. Then follow them around. You can tweet about what they are doing and where they are in realtime.
- Stage a Q&A. Persuade a senior person to be available to answer questions on a topic. Promote it. Share the answers.
- Embed your Twitter stream on the organisations’ website so non-Twitter people can see what is being said.
- Build it and they will come is silly. Go offline. Tell people about it. Email them. Put it in team briefings. Shout. Shout. Let it all out.
- Capture the tweets you’ll send and the comments you’ll receive on the web. By all means use Storify to capture what is being said. That’s an easy drag and drop web application you can use to preserve things.
- Capture the tweets you’ll send and the comments you’ll receive as screenshots. Take a screenshot. Email it to people. The officers in the repairs team. People like that.
- Feature the residents. How long has Mrs Smith lived in that house? What does she think of her windows? What could she suggest to improve the area she lives in?
- Ask people to do something. Don’t just let the day be just noise. Here’s the thing you’d like people to sign-up for. Here’s the consultation you’d like them to get involved with. Channel all this to help you make a difference.
More precisely, we’ve hired the Electric Cinema in Station Street, Birmingham which is the oldest working cinema in the UK. The date is Thursday December 11.
We’re doing three things. We’re having an awards ceremony, we’re watching a film and we’re showing that you don’t have to spend a fortune and go to London for an awards bash.
The event is the comms2point0 unawards and I’d like you very much to come along and to enter. It’s going to be great. December is a chance to celebrate and its a chance to think back to what you’ve done well.
If you don’t fancy picking a category come and watch the film. It’s Armandoi Iannucci satire ‘In the Loop.’
1. Best communications team chosen by the overall event sponsor
7. Best communications for change activity sponsored by Public Sector Customer Services Forum
8. Best piece of creative comms sponsored by Capacity Grid
9. Best freebie or low cost communications campaign
10. Best email marketing sponsored by GovDeliveryUK
11. Best social media campaign sponsored by Digital Action Plan
12. Best private sector/agency comms campaign or initiative
13. Best ‘Worst comms’ (this can be anything from use of clip art, worst poster, silliest random request – feel free to be creative) sponsored by Alive – The Ideas Agency
14. Best collaboration sponsored by Knowledge Hub
Big thanks to Emma Rodgers who is helping stage the event and Andy Mabbett who will compere.
An arresting comment to make, particularly as the man in the jacket was HM Government’s Ambassador to Lebanon Tom Fletcher.
The comment was made – and a whole host of others – at the tail end of a fascinating two day event in Jordan hosted by the Foreign Office for their Middle East and North Africa comms staff.
A week later and it’s a comment that keeps rattling around.
We need to communicate more like insurgents. What does that mean?
It could mean a whole host of things. To nail the obvious, it’s not about communicating beheadings. To me, it’s more about having an overall framework to work in and allowing people on the ground to be flexible, creative and agile. What I took was that it was about being not hemmed in by procedure. It’s about creating sharable content that is going to be shared. It’s seeing what works in the field and replicating it.
Here’s a second arresting comment from the event that keeps re-occuring.
“Al-Qaida’s leaders view communications as 90 percent of the struggle.”
Think for a minute of that group and what do you see?
Ossama bin Laden in a fuzzy vhs video?
The Twin Towers?
Both are powerful images which frame the first 14 years of the 21st century.
They are communications.
They were framed by communications people.
The Ambassador is of course right. Sometimes we can be too hemmed in by process to think agile, creative, sharable and flexible.
To have such a green light from the top is a gift to cherish.
Sometimes the play book comes not from the institution or the old ways of doing things. It comes from unexpected quarters and what your enemy does.
It also poses the question that if communications is 90 per cent of the issue then are you doing enough? More importantly, have you got the support to do enough?
Spanish poet Baltasar Gracian said that a wise man gets more use from his enemies than a fool from his friends.
So, how can you learn from your enemies?
Magic bullet https://www.flickr.com/photos/45175402@N00/51470257/