February 18, 2013 at 10:48 pm #176536
I had lunch today with Bill Greeves, CIO of Wake County, North Carolina, and author of “Social Media in the Public Sector Field Guide.” As we were talking about the use of social media in government, we could not think of any really clear examples where a public sector organization has cited specific, demonstrable results from the use of social media (other than maybe CDC, who puts their metrics out there for all to see – and even then, it’s just pageviews, followers, fans, etc. and not directly connected to mission impact).
For instance, do you know of any organizations that have:
- Run a strategic social media campaign that aimed at hitting a specific number of pageviews, document downloads, or some other clear metric that would indicate successful, increased dissemination of information to the public?
- Achieved cost savings from the conversion of print or some other communication mode to social media?
- Tracked the number of people reached via social media and did some analysis to show an overall increase in web traffic, improved SEO or some other indicator of increased awareness?
- Increased access to services by numbers of people served that cited social media as the referral source?
- Decreased time to answer for citizens seeking information?
- Improved a service or process based on citizen feedback that led to substantial cost savings?
I am sure you can think of more…but you see what I am getting at: real, demonstrable impact from social media use by government (vs. increase in followers or fans, number of comments / RTs / @ replies, etc.)
Thanks for sharing what you know from your agency or others!
February 18, 2013 at 11:07 pm #176564
I just noticed that, generally speaking, CDC stopped revealing their numbers as of December 2011- clear climbs to that point, but wondering if / why something changed and they stopped reporting.
February 19, 2013 at 1:32 pm #176562
Responses on Twitter from @kim26stephens:
@Kim26stephens Got the 1st link. Good increase in traffic, likes, etc. Big thing I’m noodling: Does that mean more / new people got that…?
@krazykriz Big impact is people being able to access content on mobile devices. SM does that better than standard website, which = increase
February 19, 2013 at 2:19 pm #176560
One example of an agency trying to do something more sophisticated:
February 19, 2013 at 6:43 pm #176558
One of the best examples I have in my own experience was using Twitter in 2008 to post daily construction updates for one of our sewer projects @golfview2008. I know it made a significant difference because the project impacted resident access to a long cul de sac. So it was hugely disruptive, and normally on these types of projects we would field many regular calls from residents with questions about garbage and mail pickup, school bus pickup, access, schedule, etc. But I don’t remember getting one call for this – we gave out one letter at the start of the project and referred people to the Twitter account. It was such a simple use of social media, and I sometimes think people are looking for some big, flashy use of social media with earth shattering results. But the things that make a huge difference for what we do, at least in cities, are not usually the complex, sexy implementations. It’s things like the simple posting each day of what is going on for a sewer project that saves residents the time of having to call, particularly at inconvenient times, and staff the time of answering questions over the phone.
A side benefit of that project is the time it saved on determining and agreeing to quantities with the contractor – another task that can be very time-consuming and frustrating. Because we posted each day what was installed, the contractor could keep up with what we had measured on a daily basis. He also told me at the end of the project how easy it was to confirm the quantities – he just went to the Twitter account and pulled the information from there. Going back today I can see how this archived documentation of construction could help cities and residents in the future to get dates for specific tasks that were completed.
Unfortunately I left that city before the next construction season and was told by an elected official there that the incoming mayor believed social media was a waste of time so I don’t think they’ve tried using social media since then. And it’s not really something I was able to implement in my current position. So I haven’t been able to test this approach again to see if the results would be the same.
February 19, 2013 at 7:10 pm #176556
An excellent question, Andrew.
There have clearly been returns on investment for making use of web-sites, and electronically available information and forms. Has social media added value above and beyond that? Personally, I haven’t seen it, but that may be more a matter of the visible impact paling in comparison to simple use of websites, rather than having NO impact at all.
I think it is also fair to suggest that the line between government social media, or government use of social media services, and general use of social media, is fairly blurry. For instance, if one simply wants to get some information “out there” in a hurry, it wouldn’t take long, or too many steps in transmission, before what government has put out simply becomes part of the broader grapevine.
The bigger challenge is whether what comes into government via social media (as opposed to what they send out, which isn’t really all that different from a simple website with more push) is used, or even could be used.
Or have I misunderstood the question?
February 20, 2013 at 1:26 pm #176554
Great example, Pam! Hopefully, we will have others chime in with similar reports.
February 20, 2013 at 1:44 pm #176552
Thanks, Mark. I think the getting information out there and the receipt of incoming information quickly has been most evident in emergency situations – inclement weather, natural disasters, etc.
Another way that social media has been used for incoming impact is by the US Geological Survey, where they have asked citizens to report their experiences.
I also know of crowd-sourced budget activities that have a social element where citizen input is considered when it comes to a city’s budget prepar….
CDC tracked flu cases using social media.
But on the federal level, I’m not sure how citizen input has changed things – maybe over at TSA based on feedback they are receiving on their blog?
February 20, 2013 at 1:45 pm #176550
Two examples I just found that I like:
February 20, 2013 at 1:47 pm #176548
Justin Herman, social media lead at GSA’s Digital Services Innovation Center, unveiled yesterday a new metrics methodology over on HowTo.gov:
February 21, 2013 at 11:19 pm #176546
Andrew – here is a story that I came across today. It seemed as if social media made a big impact on govt. emergency communications with Sandy. http://www.emergencymgmt.com/disaster/Sandy-Black-Hole-of-Communication.html
February 22, 2013 at 4:17 pm #176544
Five of the six suggested metrics are measures of social media used to push from organizations to people/citizens. Only the last mentions feedback. Social media by definition is about interactions among people and within virtual communities and networks. You can use social media in a uni-directional fashion and measure results (or try to) as though you were advertising or direct mailing but what sets social media apart is multi-directional communication, not just to people/citizens but from people/citizens to organizations and within people/citizens and organizations. The real and unique benefits will come from collaboration/crowdsourcing/community . . . and the fact that all of us know more than any of us. These benefits are not easy to measure but there are likely at least some anecdotal stories out there. I am involved primarily with online association communities and here are some of the benefits that we have seen for busy people.
February 25, 2013 at 5:08 am #176542
Andrew, for the online citizen engagement projects that I’ve managed lately for local governments, we create a project blog site (using WordPress) as the central platform and then use a variety of other online tools and services (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, CoverItLive, GoToWebinar, Survey Monkey, Mailchimp, Basecamp, etc) in complementary fashion.
I can point to ‘really obvious results’ but this may not be what you’re looking for.
March 1, 2013 at 1:14 am #176540
Last December, King County in Seattle, Wash., drove national media coverage in the New York Times, CNN and Huffington Post alongside nearly 30,000 interactions on social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Storify. In three days, we sparked 10X the engagement than we see during a typical month, and we issued 623 marriage licenses to same-sex couples—a typical day sees between 50-100 licenses issued.
I recently presented this case study at a Word of Mouth Marketing Association conference in Seattle, and you can view the slide deck here: http://slidesha.re/Y33tt7.
On the night of Dec. 6, 2012, one month after Washington State voters approved same-sex marriage, King County opened the Recorder’s Office for a special midnight ceremony that ushered in a new era of civil rights. In doing so, King County became the first jurisdiction in the country to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples based on voter approval.
Happy couples young and old, many of whom had waited decades for this moment, braved the chilly night to become a part of American history. Learn how King County blended traditional and social media to connect with participants, drive news coverage, and emcee a once-in-lifetime event that reimagined how a community engages with local government.
Social Media Results:
- 6,639 mentions of the hashtag #MEDayWA on Twitter
- 1,246 mentions of @kcnews on Twitter
- 348 people registered for Facebook events
- 5,712 people “talking about this” on Facebook
- 400+ photos shared from participants
- 8,375 pageviews on Storify
- 2,725 video views on YouTube
- 91 check-ins at Recorder’s Office
To put this event in context, here is a comparison of Marriage Equality Day next to the Nov. 6, 2012 general election*, which was a pretty big month for us in terms of social media mentions.
This was a resounding success for us, and we built tremendous goodwill both with the local community and members of the news media we work with regularly. You can see in the box above that only 1,200 of the 30,000 interactions were mentions of our Twitter handle. Those kind of mentions do not automatically equal success. We used social media to communicate with the hundreds of people waiting in line on their smartphones, and we got people talking to each other, telling their own stories and sharing their own content. That’s what social media is all about.
I’d love to talk more about this event and our use of social media if anyone is interested. Please feel free to send me an email.
Social Media Specialist, King County
March 4, 2013 at 9:37 pm #176538
Griff – Share ‘em if you got ‘em!
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