That’s something that runs through Helpful Technology’s excellent Digital Engagement Guide like a golden thread.
It’s basically a rather wonderful collection of practical guides, strategies and case studies that are a treasure trove of ideas. Best of all these are ideas based in battle-hardened reality.
Steph Gray, who built it, deserves immense credit for putting it together. Based in the South East, a former head of digital communications at BIS he has done a lot of good work across Central Government. For my part, I was rather honoured to add a smidge of local government content along with Al Smith of Greenfinch and a man who I rate terrifically highly.
But digital engagement? How does that affect comms people? Isn’t that a bit of a touchy-feely way of saying consultation? Frankly, as web 2.0 develops boundaries are being blurred ever more often and the strict distinction between many job titles is starting to look obsolete. Besides, if you are looking to use social media as a comms channel it just won’t work unless it’s a listening channel too. For the press officer used to firing out press releases into the ether that’s a big change. But an exciting one.
Here are five belters from the Digital Engagement Guide
Department for International Development Bloggers – This shows how many authors to a single blog can work for an organisation. With stories from around the globe this works because it is written by individuals about human problems.
The US Army Social Media Guide – Few large organisations do social media as well as the US Army. Millions follow their Marines Facebook page alone. But how do they do it? Aren’t there security risks? This link to the guide itself sets out how new channels are used successfully. If the US military can use social media why can’t your organisation?
BBC English Regions Social Media Guidelines – You can almost substitute the word ‘BBC’ with ‘local government’ and it’s a good foundation for how officers should use digital channels. This is excellent. Always post different content to Facebook than to Twitter. Don’t use txtspk. You’ll find yourself nodding like one of those dogs in the back of cars.
New York City Council’s Customer Use Policy – Much gets written on how officers should use social media. There’s not too much about how customers should use it. These public guidelines from New York are an excellent starting point.
Gangway collapse at HMS Belfast – Ben Proctor from the likeaword consultancy is brilliant at crisis comms. He’s also really good at piecing together case studies. In this one he shows how official Twitter accounts working together build a picture and fill the information vacuum that takes place when something goes wrong.
There are dozens more good examples at the Digital Engagement Guide website.
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