Whilst raising awareness of social networking and the possibilities that it offers local government, something which i am always asked is “So how many people are we really talking about then?”
Well i thought i would find out, so I used the facebook “advertising” option and this is the results based on facebook’s Estimates.
All the following statistics are based on these search criteria:
who live in the United Kingdom
who live within 25 miles of Exeter, Barnstaple, Torquay, Newton Abbot, Tiverton or Plymouth
- Under 25 – 66,560 people
- 26- 40 – 56,380 people
- 41 – 55 – 23,300 people
- 56 plus – 5,240 people
- Men – 73,780 people
- Women – 79,180 people
What I find interesting about these statistics is that for most groups we are talking about the size of a small/medium town, so it would seem to add value to the argument that we really need to listen and communicate/engage these people somehow to find out what we can do to improve services locally for them.
The bigger question though for me and i’m not 100% sure of the answer although i’d guess at No is:
- Are these people likely to be engaged already in Shaping Local Services?
Now facebook isn’t the only tool, but it does provide a good example of the level of people locally who you could reach, and who are likely to have not been reached before. Surely that can only be good for local democracy and service improvement.
I have been reading a lot about social media lately and trying to promote it within my council around internal and external communications. A post from an expert on the subject.
The tricky thing with social media is that there always seems to be something new appearing to play with, that will radically change the way we work and communicate.
In my role as the business lead for web strategy and development, i always try and focus on what the business is trying to achieve and what problems they are trying to solve and then look at the landscape to see what will work for them. I know many people from different organisations get a “thing” and then look for business problems. For me this is the wrong way round and we should focus on blended solutions to help people reach our variety of customers who choose to use various contact methods.
I came across the Social Media Manifesto by Brian Solis, which is about a year old now but i was unaware of it and i have found it a great read, especially alongside Clay Shirky (yes still going, i know i should have finished but i keep going back over some parts as they are so good). What i liked about what Brian Solis wrote was the simple but effective (getting started) bit…he writes:
“Below are your action items for placing your company on course for the Future of Integrating Marketing and embracing the world of social media to enhance relationships with press, bloggers, customers and all other unforeseen influencers:
- Experiment with social media as a person before jumping in as a company spokesperson
- Talk to the corporate marketing team, discuss the options, and divide and conquer
- Listen – find the tools that work for you (technorati, GoogleBlogSearch, BlogPulse, etc.)
- Determine where you customers participate, listen, read, and speak with them on their terms
- Assign a community manager or multiple managers and start commenting, reading, writing, sharing, and participating
- Participate as a contributor and not a marketer
- Create company profiles and share relevant content on every important social networks – don’t forget to manage your presence in each one
- Create videos, screencasts, and demos and upload to YouTube
- Broadcast and receive relevant updates through Twitter, Plazes, or Jaiku
- Webcast relevant videos
- Podcast and/or host a video blog
- Set up del.icio.us profiles for corporate bookmarks, industry trends, competition, and press/blogger coverage
- Create special Linked in profiles for company executives
- Establish contacts in all major IMs for specific company contacts
- Expand the company blog to support multiple spokespersons
- Add a blogroll that links to other relevant sites and ensure that each post trackbacks to other resources and references to increase visibility
- Participate in comments
- Create blog profiles in Mybloglog and Bloglines to reach dedicated users
- Build company and campaign-specific profiles (where appropriate) on Facebook, Myspace, etc.
- Develop your own social networks specific to the company and current activities a la Ning and Ideastorm
- Host a regular talk show on blogtalkradio or blogtv
- Create an account and Digg relevant stories – not just related to you
- Write more than one release – experiment with social and SEO releases and create new distribution methods to get them in front of customers – the wire services are no longer the only game in town.
- Analyze web statistics to measure traffic and referring sources”
Now i just need to tick these off and work my way through as best possible from a local government context…..but keeping up with social media tools themselves will prove to be a harder and more challenging role.