Government 2.0 Club is an informal organization focused on convening the tribe of technologists and thinkers focused on applying social technologies to the governments worldwide.
How Cities Respond to Negative Comments in Social Media
December 23, 2011 at 9:19 pm #148104
I just wrote a blog entry on my thoughts on why social platforms are vital to a city or any public agency. Esp. after the recent occupy protests and how some cities are pulling their social functions due to the negative backlash.
Would love to hear your thoughts on this.
January 3, 2012 at 3:04 pm #148106
Thank you, Alan, for your inspiring blog.
I agree with you on all counts, and would like to second you:
“Cities need to understand they are a BRAND […]”. Exactly. And the examples you list, Apple, Nike, Lady Gaga, professionally manage their brand. Cities should care about their brand just as much, it is an important function in marketing the city in order to attract investing businesses, taxpaying citizens, and consuming tourists.
Or to engage with citizens. Which means, to create a bond with citizens strong enough that they advocate for the city and volunteer to help her run better. E.g. via a mobile 311 application allowing citizens to report neighborhood issues. It is not enough for the city to make such an app available. Upon receiving citizen reports the city also needs to respond and update the status of these reports just as quickly. Which leads me to the second quote:
“Social Media works only when its an input and output. Hate to break it to Stu Loeser, but twitter and Facebook aren’t just another version of a 311 line.” Other than ads and radio, social media are not one-way communication devices. They have to be embraced for what they are, or it just won’t work. Same with mobile. That is exactly why it is not sufficient for governments to just “do” social media and mobile, and to just consider them as yet another output channel for content, or input channel for 311 issues. These technologies need strategy and planning, and understanding beyond their technological intricacies. New York’s “equal treatment” of all incoming 311 issues regardless of their origin may sound good on paper. But actually, NYC misses out on the opportunity to automate and streamline processing some 311 service requests more than others, and on saving some taxpayer money doing it. For example, mobile applications may be used 24/7 at any place in the community citizens go. Citizens can use these apps where they encounter issues that matter to them. These apps have categories for issues, allowing e.g. for automatic assignment of work orders in the city’s ERP system. As location data and pictures are provided via the mobile app into th eERP system, city workers can quickly assess urgency, and prioritize the reported issue, and set the status accordingly, which is visible to the citizen. With the same set of information city workers can quickly solve the issue and complete the issue report. This convenient citizen self-service technology is less costly to the city than personnel in a call center, and it allows for faster follow-through, and it has broader reach due to its 24/7 ubiquitous availability.
Combining mobile and 2.0 technologies as e.g. the City of Boston does, their awarded mobile app tweets those issue reports and the city tweets status updates in response. This tweet broadcast not only increases awareness of this service among generally interested citizens, but allows them to retweet and comment. This crowdsourcing of input and validation of issue reports could help the city better assess priorities of issues and the course of action to solve them. Successful crowdsourcing often requires a critical mass of contributors, however, a city that is able to engage with citizens may do with a handful of dedicated volunteers.
Wrapping it up I say it again: In order to make good use of Gov 2.0 technologies and reap their benefits, governments need to fully grasp the business impact of these technologies. Cities (and all agencies in the business of attracting business, citizens, or tourists) need proper brand management. Gov 2.0 technology can help, provided they are used strategically, not just as yet another channel.
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