Why I think #LocalGov hasn’t really cracked #Facebook

This won’t be a long in-depth post, I won’t be quoting research or statistics.

My thoughts are quite simple really and if I compare the relative success of twitter by councils as opposed to facebook, it isn’t really rocket science why it hasn’t worked.

Lets start with a few key things about twitter.

  1. you only have 2 privacy settings – Open or Closed
  2. twitter is a wider environment not specifically tied into people’s personal or family social networks.
  3. twitter is not about existing networks but actually helps people to build and connect to larger ones
  4. you don’t need approval to follow someone (unless you’ve blocked your account)

Now compare that to facebook and you can start to understand some of the complexity that exists for councils before even reaching someones stream.

  1. the privacy settings are multi-level, multi-user and are only becoming more complicated as each month passes.
  2. facebook is more about existing connections and networks
  3. the process of connecting requires both parties to approve.

So take these simply things and then think about how a council fits into this picture.

I appreciate I’ve simplified so much here but you don’t need me to tell you all the differences between them….

So my assumption and conclusion is that twitter is great for those people who want to find out information without having to seek approval from people…in fact a bit like subscribing to an RSS feed but with opportunities to actually engage with the content.

The use of facebook will only ever “really” work for local government when we actually already have connections with people…so it really could be seen as an extension of a CRM system as opposed to a communications platform as it is about existing connections and not about creating new ones.

Once you see it in this way, you’ll start to think of more appropriate ways to use it.

So the reason local government hasn’t cracked facebook is because it is trying to reach “new” people and not focusing on adding value to those people it already has connections with…this is one reason I believe libraries make such good use from facebook.


8 thoughts on “Why I think #LocalGov hasn’t really cracked #Facebook

  1. Hi Carl,

    Well actually -> I think we can glue the positive attributes of twitter and facebook together. The twitter-clouding and twitter-profiling tech we have is designed to both dynamically build and tune content so that it keep’s in step with ‘community interests’ and to then market the content (the product) using harvested hashtags and accounts with matching profiles.

    Very crudely, we detect what a ‘community’ is ‘thinking’ by building a twitter-cloud. We then profile the cloud and match content to the cloud. We harvest user accounts and hashtags from the twitter cloud, build a profile for each one and then promote accordingly.

    We can do them same with news content on Council home pages – profile the twitter cloud, profile the visitor and profile the content and then dynamically glue all three together at the moment the visitor views the page.

    That lets you break out of the closed network problem?

    1. I’ve had this approach for a while now and is why i have a twitter, facebook and linked in policy which are available in the menu under about me…

      Once councils have connections it could be possible and practical to build those relationships and i think this is also why our initial pilot in youth services worked as they already had connections with the youth worker…so it simply added value to that connection.

  2. Facebook is less open than Twitter yes – but the hope is that folk will see your posts and ‘share’ them with others who will then ‘like’ your page. We feed our Facebook postings to Twitter anyway – so best of both worlds. I’d be interesting in polling our Facebook ‘likers’ to see how many are actually library members.

  3. Carl,

    As individuals begin to create their own personal data stores, and then volunteer personal information with their local authority, GP or a business, we should begin to see much richer interaction.

    2012 is when this ought to start.


  4. Very much agree with the thrust of this. FB is not best suited to the sort of relationship local authorities have, as it were “cold” with people. However, I think it has proven to be a good tool for groups who have already passed that stage and have an established relationship with the local authority. My own has been working with the likes of looked after children, and very young parents.

    A few readers might hate me for saying this, but used in that way, FB also tends to avoid the deathly clutches of local authority comms teams, some of whom seem more intent in trying to make social media fit their outmoded ways of working than they are in changing their methods and ethos to a social media-based world.

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