Republished from eGov AU.
As a marketer I find the internet a dream channel for monitoring customer sentiment and concerns.
Social media and search engines can be easily and cheaply tracked to provide fast feedback on various initiatives. This helps organisations shape their campaigns and responses to external events.
I'd recommend that this is equally of enormous value to government, where perception and citizen sentiment can strongly influence political views and processes.
If your department isn't keeping an eye on what people are saying about you and your key topic areas (and Minister) online, then you may be missing an enormous opportunity to get early warnings on potential growing issues, to adjust campaigns and programs to take advantage of trends or to tap into popular sentiment to shape new ideas.
One example of effective use of social media monitoring is from the US Army, who closely monitor blogs and social networking sites to track the public response to various events.
The article, Air Force checked blogs, Twitter to gauge New Yorkers' anger about flyover, from NextGov, discusses how the US Army used online monitoring to track and respond to the public anger resulting from their fly-over of New York in April.
Within an hour of the flyover the Army knew it had the makings of a public relations disaster on its hands and was able to begin putting in place a response.
The Army has also used the learnings from this experience to educate further activities and use online media to ensure that citizens are receiving the facts about events.
This type of approach has many applications across government, from emergency management through to reviewing the response and level of accurate coverage of ministerial announcements.
So if you're not yet using the online channel to track citizen sentiment you may be doing your department and Minister a disservice.