Evidence (if any was needed) of how public sector bodies are still struggling to understand what social media is all about. In the ‘follow the herd’ instinct by councils and other public sector bodies to set up Twitter accounts, there’s a dawning realisation that Twitter is not a one-way broadcast channel. It’s clearly come as something as a shock that citizens who follow these tweets may on occasion send a reply, or maybe even use the @xxxxx address as a means of communicating with the faceless entity they know as their ‘local council’.
“We are becoming an arm of our complaints service, but with no budget – and the complaints team itself won’t monitor Twitter,” says one delegate from the Building Perfect Council Websites conference.
Social media needs to be fully integrated with the organisation’s communications strategy, which means ensuring it is properly managed and resourced, and not a bolt-on activity to be managed by a small cohort of social media enthusiasts. Whether it’s a Twitter account or a corporate blog, you have to be prepared and resourced to handle these as two-way communication channels.
If you’re a public sector body and you want a broadcast channel, use your website (preferably with an RSS feed) and leave social media alone. You’ll find life a lot simpler, albeit less rewarding.