EASY CLIMBING: some crowdsourced social media guidance we helped shape


3875296575_9f1eb0d77b_bWhen I left local government six months ago I said that this was to do more in local government and the public sector.

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.

But wait.

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.

We crowdsourced

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
    debate.
    •        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.

If you work in the public sector and want to chat further drop me a
note by email to dan@comms2point0.co.uk or on Twitter @danslee.

The #nhssm discussion of the LGA health and wellbeing board guidelines
takes place between 8pm and 9pm on Wednesday November 19.

 


140 STORY: 15 Tips For Joining In A Twitter Event

8237167016_0317889078_oSo, you are wondering whether or not to join in #housingday, #ourday or a similar real time Twitter event.

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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Take a video. With Instagram you have about 14 seconds of video that can be shared to Twitter.
  5. 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.
  6. Share some content. Press the retweet button and share what other people are doing.
  7. Ask a question. Ask what people think. Ask the for their own experiences.
  8. 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.
  9. Stage a Q&A. Persuade a senior person to be available to answer questions on a topic. Promote it. Share the answers.
  10. Embed your Twitter stream on the organisations’ website so non-Twitter people can see what is being said.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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?
  15. 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.

Picture caption

https://www.flickr.com/photos/70285332@N00/8237167016/


SOCIAL CONTENT: Are You Getting the Balance Right?

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Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for comms planning and having a purpose.

If the aim is to do something then it makes sense to have your comms pointing at that.

The only thing is that social media isn’t like that. It’s social. So, a stream of call-to-action updates just won’t work. It’s as social as a stream of flyers being pushed through your letterbox.

So, what’s the answer?

There needs to be a balance of the social and the stuff you want people to sign up for, buy or do.

Often in training I’ll refer to an 80-20 split. The 80 per cent is conversational and engaging content. The 20 per cent is the things you’d like people to do.

In a fascinating interview on BBC Radio 4′s ‘The Bottom Line’ Asda’s social manager puts the balance at 10 to 1.

Dominic Birch, Asda senior director of marketing, innovation and new revenue, said that the social media team has now become part of the wider PR team.

“We didn’t have a budget. So it wasn’t the case of advertising that we were on Facebook. Each time we posted some content we had to rely on even a very small number of people at first liking it for that content to be seen my anyone else otherwise we would be speaking to ourselves.

“We averaged two or three posts a day, every day, so maybe 20 posts a week.

It started to get interesting when they started to get customers to chip in with decisions. Nothing big. Customers chose the design for Christmas tea towels.

“What was really interesting was that 4,500 people went to the bother of asking whether they liked design ‘a’, ‘b’ or ‘c’. Actually, it was that moment that with 18 million customers we understood that if you connect to the right ones they really do care about what you do, what they say and why wouldn’t they? Ultimately, they’re going to come into your shop and choose to buy it.”

Big numbers is not the answer as fewer people see the posts. If the people who like your page are true customers it’ll cost you less effectively to reach them through Facebook ads.

“There is a danger that social media becomes diarrhea. We had a rule of thumb that for every post we wanted to push or sell something to be very blunt about it we had to put 10 other posts in the bank. They are there solely to engage our customers. We have to have done hard work  talking about what the customers wanted to talk about before we have the right or licence to push something out.

“It’s a two-way dialogue social media. It just is. Our starting point is not to sell. It’s to listen. A few years ago we had a Christmas ad that was based on insight that it was Mum who does the heavy lifting, organises the present, gets the tree, cooks the meal and we depicted this advert and were met with a media backlash. Some people thought this was filmed in the 1950s and Fathers for Justice were going to do protests in the turkey aisle but we had three or four thousand comments saying things like ‘I nudged my husband awake when that came on the TV and said:L ‘that’s how it really feels.’ If you’d have gone back two or three years there would have been a high level meeting and the advert would have been pulled.”

That’s useful insight. Are you getting the balance right?

 

Creative commons credit

Balance https://flic.kr/p/9herYu

 


POST COMMS: Excellent… a survey and whitepaper for #commsforchange14

3802077970_5b09858596_zIn September, some of the brightest minds in public sector comms will come to Birmingham for our rather fine #commsforchange14 event. It’s been drawn-up by comms and pr people especially for comms and pr people. Know what’s even better? We’re also publishing a whitepaper at the event and we’re launching a survey to help shape it. Can you help?

by Dan Slee

The single biggest problem with communications, George Bernard Shaw once said, is the illusion that it has taken place.

After 20 years of working for and with the media I’ll add another one. The biggest problem is that it rarely happens with enough time.

We’ve all been there. The service area who tell you via email at 6.08pm about a major project launch in the morning.

Does it have to be this way?

Absolutely not.

It’s one of the reaons why we are staging the #commsforchange14 event with PSCSF in Birmingham on September 24.

We didn’t want this just to be a run-of-the-mill go-through-the-motions conference. We care about this. That’s why we have some cracking speakers in the morning and an unconference in the afternoon where the agenda is put together on the day.

It’s why we’re putting together a whitepaper specially for the event to capture some of the expert opinion and some tips to share.

We want to give you at the event the tools to position you and your team closer to the top table and to service areas so you can better communicate change. The better you communicate the better you get to look.

What will the whitepaper tackle? 

This white paper will cover:

  • How soon should comms be involved?
  • How can you position comms close to the top table?
  • How can the relationship between service areas and comms be improved?
  • How important is internal comms?
  • Some cracking case studies to help you.

How can you get the whitepaper? 

Attendees to #commsforchange14 get their own printed copy and a chance to chat to some of the contributors. They’ll also get an electronic copy emailed to them.

You can get a copy emailed to you within days of the event just by contributing to the survey.

We’d love it if you could take a few minutes to complete a survey to help us prepare a snapshot baseline picture that tells us where comms people are.

There’s the theory and the reality. We’d like to check where reality is before we work on the theory.

So, please do take a few minutes to complete the survey on this link here. We’d love you forever. That’s two links in three paragraphs.

So, why is comms getting involved early a good idea?

There’s a whole list of reasons why getting comms involved in a project early is a good idea. The earlier you do it the better chance you stand of winning.

Here are seven. Feel free to add more.

 

The single biggest problem with communications - Word 31082014 231555.bmp

We look forward to seeing you at the event.

 


#COMMSCAMP14: Did That Really Just Happen?

14421903699_6fd42b66a6_kA couple of days have now passed since the rather glorious Monday in July that was commscamp.

First thought is ‘did that really just happen?’ and second is ‘how the hell do I process all that information?’

The answer to the first is ‘yes’ and to the second: ‘with a bit of time and space, if that’s okay?’

This isn’t going to be your traditional list of things I learned at an event post but rather a quick chance to chuck up a few paragraphs after a bit of time has passed. There will be a proper ‘thank you’ post in the next couple of days and there’s a load of people to thank.

It isn’t just about eating cake. But cake is a trojan horse that disarms people. How serious can you be when discussing the merits of Victoria sponge as an introduction?

There is value in an unconference. I’ve said repeatedly, that I started to think differently after the first unconference I went to. That was localgovcamp in 2009 a rather seminal moment for myself and a whole load of other people too. There’s something in the format that allows people who don’t get the chance to have a voice and that’s really powerful.

There’s a cycle in event organising that runs from having a great idea, then starting the ball rolling and then doing the work, then wondering if this thing will work, then realising that it will and then repeating. If someone came to commscamp and is a bit inspired to run something the advice is to do it.

Evaluation, evaluation, evaluation… is the thing that’s going to either save pr and communications or kill it. And there’s a blog post brewing about what you can do and how to do it. If you evaluate you can show your worth and show how you are making a difference. Without it you are an expensive luxury that people think that they can do without and let’s face it, if you are not telling your story, who can blame them? Forget the new shiny channel for a second. Think of the fundamentals and spend time on this. It’ll save your life.

If you think that Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn are the last word in social media you’re dead wrong. One of the conclusions of the IEWM survey was that local government in the West Midlands isn’t touching Whats App and Snapchat. 14586772736_3317557b05_kStats would tell you that it would be a good idea if we all did. The web keeps moving. But the lessons pioneers learned in the foothills of 2008 when convincing places to use things like Facebook are lessons that will see us all through.

The thing that makes me smile is people with light bulbs going on above their heads. It’s the thing that makes my day worthwhile now comms2point0 is a company. Going somewhere and training and then seeing someone’s face when they realise how powerful the web is and how they can use it. It’s brilliant. I think at commscamp there were people with light bulbs popping all over the shop and that for me is brilliant.

There’s never enough time to blog and I’ve counted five I’d like to tackle in the next few days. Why blog? Because it’s working things out that lets me go back and look at the workings out a bit later down the track.

Thank you for helping make commscamp a success. There really are some great people out there.

Creative commons credits

@Blangry eating cake: https://flic.kr/p/nYq2w4 by Ann Kempster

Two people talking: https://flic.kr/p/odZ2kE by Leah Lockhart


SOCIAL VOICE: Corporate Criticism Shouldn’t Be Taken Personally

136999986_e410a68efb_oThere’s a thing about people who put their heart and soul into making a social media account work.

They go the extra mile, they’re pushing at the margins and they take a real sense of pride about what they are doing.

But there’s also something that connects them whether profile they are running whether that’s a town centre Facebook, a corporatel Twitter or an NHS Trust YouTube channel.

Because they put heart and soul into what they do their skin is that bin thinner when they face criticism of the organisation or service they front-up online.

Is it aimed at me? It feels like it… 

“I used to go onto our social channel in the evening and answer questions,” one said to me recently. “I don’t bother now. When I’ve spent all day being told that I’m rubbish and the service we provide is dreadful I’m worn down. I just don’t want it in the evening as well.”

Of course, that person isn’t rubbish and the person making the complaint isn’t singling out that individual. They just happen to be the person operating the place where people can make a voice heard.

It’s a feeling I can relate to. A one-off project I helped run went well but the numbers we produced were lambasted by a lone voice in the early hours of the morning and that made me far more angry than it probably should.

That’s not to say that there should be no criticism or even that it’s always, always unwelcome.

We should just acknowledge that when a half brick comes flying towards an organisation’s social media it’s not meant for you but the organisation you work for. It’s rarely personal.

Creative commons credit
Dandelion https://www.flickr.com/photos/51194339@N00/136999986/

#LOCALGOVCAMP: And where are we now?

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A good thing is about to happen.  Localgovcamp is taking place in Birmingham.

Local what?

Localgovcamp. It first happened in 2009 and has happened sporadically since.

You put more than 100 people in a room and you let them to set the agenda about what’s discussed. Ideas, connection and inspiration emerge and  ideas, magpie others and make connections.

For one day job titles are left at the door and everyone has a say in working out how the internets plus people and enthusiasm can make a difference. I learned more about the social web in its early days from people who went to localgovcamp than I did from anyone from PR.

So much has happened…

The first one made me think differently. It was a Road to Damascus moment. I realised my view counted and that the future was going to be digital. We could see the future and that we could shape it.

But not all for the good…

And yet change hasn’t happened as quickly as it needs to. Some of those early travellers have fallen by the wayside gone but not forgotten. The revolution didn’t happen overnight and austerity has stopped much innovation in its tracks. Yet the pace needs to pick up. Change in a sector shouldn’t be left to enthusiasts doing things in their spare time.

And the trajectory is onwards….

Some bright people are doing good work in part because of the freedom of thought and network attending a govcamp has brought. The Localgovdigital group is one of those heading forward though not nearly as fast and with none of the resources the sector needs.

And a bunch of freelancers emerged…

A long while back talking to Al Smith on Twitter I tried to guess how many from the first event had left local government. A while later using the orginal eventbrite and LinkedIn I worked it out.

118 went.

28 were from local government itself.

Of the 28 from local government 13 have left and 8 now run their own businesses. I’m one of them.

The Google doc with the attendees from localgovcamp 2009 and what they are doing is here.

I used to think unconferences like localgovcamp would change the world. I was wrong. Not on their own they don’t. They can provide the ideas and inspiration. But it’s the action that counts. Yet, if they do things like this they must carry on…


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