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Do you monitor social media conversations about your department?

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.

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Craig Kessler

All departments or groups should be monitoring themselves and their plans closely. News spreads quickly and can be put up even faster on the internet and regardless if you like it or not, there may be people talking about you on various channels on the internet. A lot of the tracking can be done for free and very easy through simple searches and alerts you may set up. It should be a daily thing to track and listen to feedback to help adjust for the future or to handle issues if the case may be.


Very true and insightful. Of course, tracking can be great – IF you do it the right way. It seems we find ourselves surrounded every day by new ways of getting numbers and statistics for just about anything, really. There’s a rate for this.. a percentage for that – hey, everyone loves a good chart! But what do you do with all of it? If you’re smart, you compare and analyze. Taking these numbers and putting them to use really gives you an advantage to understanding what works and what doesn’t. It really defeats the point if you start tracking but never really stop and LOOK at the numbers. That being said – I think tracking is just wonderful and a great way to measure public perception, feedback and potential warning signs.

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Rob Ahern

SGIS makes a good point- all of the data in the world aren’t worth a hill of beans unless they’re collected and analyzed correctly. Further, all of that work is wasted if real changes aren’t made in the face of stakeholder response and results of analysis. One of the challenges of monitoring public sentiment is the notion that for every upset customer who blogs about an issue there might be myriad happy customers who remain silent. It’s (relatively) easy to collect data regarding what might need fixed; it’s somewhat more challenging to figure out ways to measure effective programs. Great post, though… thanks for sharing!