#DCCSMF – The return of the DCC Social Media Forum

One of the first things I put on my to-do list when I became Digital Communications Manager, was to restart and refocus the DCC Social Media Forum.  The last one was over 2 years ago and one of the last things discussed was opening it up to our public sector family across Devon…So that is what I have done.

Friday 7th October is the  DCC Social Media Forum and there is over 75 people from across the county council and our public sector colleagues – and not just the usual suspects which is a success in its own right…

We have operational staff and Heads of Service in attendance from across a range of services including Highways,  Customer Services, ICT, Emergency Planning, Communication, Trading Standards, Workforce Development, Audit, Information Management and colleagues from our District Councils, Unitary Councils plus Cornwall Council, Devon & Somerset Fire,  Devon & Cornwall Police, Met Office and even the MoD, which is absolutely fantastic and I’m personally very grateful to all the people who are coming for taking the time out of their busy schedules to come together and share, connect, challenge and inspire one another.

The agenda is split into two parts…a set of 20 minute shared learning sessions on the following topics:

  • Open and Linked Data
  • QR codes
  • Social Media Campaigns
  • FOI and twitter
  • The internal use of Social networking tools
  • Nurturing Online Communities
  • Crisis Communications
  • Social Media Risk Assessment
And the second part of the day will be a set of 20 minute discussion/challenge sessions on the above topics or whatever people feel inspired to talk about.
One of the challenges in organising this is that I had to actually turn people away due to space restriction, but it does fill me with confidence that a SouthWestLocaGovCamp event on a week day would be a huge success….so will have to come back to that in the spring…as I kind of see the two blurring together…
Anyway, I’m not sure how many people will tweet during the event but if they do the hashtag is #DCCSMF.
I just hope that it actually meets people’s expectations and is a success…

In a Nutshell – Reflecting on Devon’s Social Media Journey

Following on from Andrew Beeken’s post about Lincoln City Council’s Social Media Journey in response to SocITM’s Helen Williams.  I include the response that myself and Russell Taylor have provided for Devon County Council.

1. Why have you chosen to use the social media channels you have, and how did you go about building a successful presence?

We chose platforms that had a high volume of users and therefore an element of penetration with local citizens. In terms of building a successful presence, we initially reposted and fed content via the councils RSS feeds in order to learn how the tools worked and to allow time for staff to grow in confidence around using the tools appropriately. We try to ensure that content is relevant and timely as well as expanding our responses and conversation due to resource constraints.

Russell Taylor:

I think the biggest increases in our presence (followers, messages, referrals) have always been linked to the promotion of topical current events and information like elections, extreme weather, budget consultations, and campaigns etc. So we try to promote these events through our social media channels when ever it’s appropriate.

2. How are you using social media?  (e.g. corporate communications tool managed by comms / service specific news from individual services themselves / campaigns / engagement tool / customer service / promotion of the local area)

We are using social media in a variety of ways – corporately we have Facebook, twitter, vimeo, blogs, flickr and some services have also developed a presence – for example libraries have used flickr to show photos of library refurbishments. It is an evolving approach and we are constantly learning how to best take advantage of particular social media tools either through opportunities such as extreme weather or by learning from other councils or other organisations we also promote via website.

Russell Taylor:

As Carl mentioned we use social media for a number of things and learning as we go. Our earliest use was for corporate communications in Twitter and Facebook. Our press releases were published into these channels. This then expanded to include announcements/promotional messages requested from other departments/partner organisations (e.g. events, alerts and campaigns).

We also try to help other organisations spread their important messages. Our YouTube channel includes many other organisations (Emergency services, DirectGov, NHS) videos in our playlists to help increase their reach. We also retweet other organisations messages were appropriate to help spread the word on important announcements (e.g. District council updates on road closures)

3. How long have you been using social media and who is involved?

we set up twitter 2.5 years ago (not sure when Facebook was created) and is has been driven primarily by the webteam with increasing contributions from other parts of the council

Russell Taylor:

At the moment the Corporate Web Team publish most of our none automated content. However as we increase awareness of social media throughout the council more of our messages are requested by other departments. We are also in the process of training users from our Customer Service Centre so they can publish their own message and provide support.

4. Who’s in charge and do you have a strategy / policy? (eg, is it comms / web / services / corporate policy or chief execs)

We have a social media policy which is documented and approved, but do not have a formal strategy. However our unwritten strategy implicitly implied by the policy is to allow and encourage access and usage, linking to business outcomes and outputs, whilst managing and mitigating risks and reputation damage. We also encourage sharing any learning across the council and wider

No one is formally in charge although the chief executive is social media and social networking champion.

We do not currently have a web manager who would be seen as a key driver in progressing and co-ordinating this activity further

5. What benefits do you see from your efforts in this area (to your organisation or customers)?

Here are some of the benefits we have seen from using social media:

  • ability to rapidly communicate messages to a vast number of people either directly or via retweets and “likes”
  • access to low cost development tools to reduce the cost of web development in some areas (blogs etc)
  • 2 way engagement and communication with people from Devon and wider.
  • the potential to reach people who may not normally visit our main website for information.
  • ability to share richer content e.g. video, photos etc (YouTube, Vimeo, Flickr)
  • mobile access – social media isn’t a 9 to 5 channel so being able to update the feed from home or on the move can be extremely useful when there is a requirement to get messages out quickly (e.g. Extreme weather/events)

6. How do you manage your social media activity? (automation, monitoring tools / software?)

For our automated messages we use RSS feeds connected through Twitterfeed. We link our Twitter and Facebook accounts using Hootsuite which we also use to monitor our mentions and references to Devon County Council.

7. What tips would you pass on to others?

Don’t try and solve every problem, start with small projects and grow and scale them up. Engage with people inside and outside of the council. Learn from others and adapt quickly. Stay positive and promote the channels via your main website

Russell Taylor:

Think about who your audience is and what information they would be interested in. Is your audience different for each social network? If so consider altering the content/tone for each. It can take time to increase followers/awareness so don’t expect too much too soon.

The ever growing Twitterers from DCC

On the 14th January i summarised the social media journey so far in my council and I listed the known DCC twitterers, well since then we have had a steady increase in twitterings – a total of 26 accounts.

Original DCC Twitterers (not all are constantly active)

  • Me
  • Sue Tylcoat – Solutions Development Manager @suety
  • Pete Morton – Enterprise Architect @podra
  • Sue Bicks – Enterprise Architect @subix
  • Russell Taylor – eComms @russ_t_uk
  • Martin Howitt – Enterprise Architect @mhowitt
  • Emma Jarvis – ICT Programmes @emjarvis
  • Pip Tucker – Head of Strategic Intelligence @piptucker (private)
  • Richard Carter – Head of Business Transformation @rcarter (private)
  • Anna Matthews – National Management Trainee @localgovgrad
  • Lynda Bowler – Libraries Web Manager @lmbowler
  • Sarah Evans – Improvement Officer @sarahevans7
  • Katie Bacon – Youth Participation @katie_bacon
  • Shaun Carter  – Strategic Intelligence @Shaun32

Found or joined since the 14th January

  • Paula Miles -Corporate Communications @paulamiles
  • Fliss Clooney – Libraries – @flissc
  • Lesley Salter – Libraries – @lesleysalter
  • Julian Manning – Consultation – @julian_manning (private)
  • Helen Drever – Strategic Intelligence – @hdrever
  • Charlie Lee – Finance – @charlie_lee (private)
  • Robert Weeks – Enterprise Architect @robjw
  • Kevin Gillick – Project/Programme Management @kev_bo
  • Simon Bailey – Enterprise Architect @smbsmb

The Council has currently got 2 twitter accounts

We also have our first Councillor twittering as well

I am still on the hunt for more and also encouraging others to join. If you do work for DCC and you are not on the list let me know.

Creating an internal Social Media Forum

The increasing awareness generally of social media tools for most people has made my job a little easier in terms of raising internal awareness. But it has created a new challenges, co-ordinating the new found interest in such sites, for some stopping them rushing head first and for most lots of interest generally from people saying “not sure what i can do but want to know more, as my customers are using it”. So i am planning a “Social Media Forum” to do exactly the above plus much more but first things first.

The need to co-ordinate may seem a little excessive but there are some logical reasons for this.

  1. Too many “official DCC” pages and services popping up without the corporate side of the organisation being aware is a little too risky and will only reaffirm for the doubters that this is not something we should be doing
  2. Lessons from the youth participation pilot project using SNS has proved that we need to manage our presence carefully and we don’t want to encourage all staff to suddenly start requesting friends or what ever it may be from our citizens. There are also issues that need to be understood around privacy and staff code of conduct as well the more complex issue around engagement. If we ask people we should see the feedback as formal feedback and not something that can be cast aside because of the informal nature of the technology. this still needs to be recognised and plugged into the formal procedures
  3. I want to ensure that we maximise our opportunities in these sites and appreciate that some routes we want to take will require and impact on resources, specially if we really want to use the channels and don’t just see them as “token” gestures and playing the game because it is seen to be trendy

On top of this forum, (and thanks to Dave Briggs for suggesting) i will be looking to create a surgery aspect to it (come and have your problems addressed) to enable people to take advantage of this stuff and not to feel isolated because none of these tools are supported by our helpdesk….this will need to be carefully managed as i will need to hopefully identify some “tool experts” as part of the forum.

So far i have received a good response and i have encouraged others to pass it on in true social networking spirit. It has also triggered a few more internal awareness presentations due to the viral marketing.

Will keep you posted on progress.