Integrating social with your corporate website – localgov style!

I’ve been managing, albeit slowly, to catch up on the many blogs, documents, videos etc I’ve saved for “later” (the joy of owning an iPad in my view).

Anyway I was very interested in this webinar that was funded by Janrain and Badgeville that the Altemeter Group’s  Jeremiah Owyang gave some excellent insights into How to Integrate Social Into Your Website:

I’ve embedded the webinar below, it is well worth watching.

It got me thinking about how far a local authority or public sector website can actually integrate social into its corporate website without it looking, well “crap” for the want of a better word.

I’m not aware of any examples of seamless “social” integration within a public sector corporate website in the UK (yet) to the level that Jeremiah suggests, but progress is being made which is reassuring across a range of aspects and I guess that priorities are different wherever you go.

I do think that‘s approach to some of its “social” and “mobile” provision is something that we in the UK could certainly learn from and adapt. I won’t comment on the site as a whole as it didn’t actually seem to work very well in google chrome, so reverted back to Firefox to check out content. I think it is fair to say that I suspect that the broadband speed in Utah are much better than they are within Rural England, so perhaps large images load fast for their core audience.

Despite the initial challenges to accessing the site, I did find some very good things which I’d love to see developed further (note not replicated) here in Devon, for example Utah Collaborate sets a nice tone but doesn’t quite go far enough to really be about “collaboration” however it is better than most if not all things I’ve seen elsewhere (NB: I’ve not done formal research in this area and my visits to websites have been random)

The collaborate idea could be a great platform for linked data and service design as well as a space for developers to show of their apps or services directly to the end users…I think if we created a much better relationship to our local developer community the whole collaborate idea would be about how other people can develop our services with or without us better than we can, thus saving money.

Utah, have got something which sort of creates a foundation for this alongside the collaborate space and that is Utah Widgets. I think that this has huge potential for people to hack data sets and create widgets based on their preferences, I’m sure Utah have a roadmap for this kind of thing, but what would be good would be to see a range of community data sets includes alongside the ones provided already and the widget space become a “mash-up” centre in a similar way the Knowledge Hub plans to provide this function for the UK Public sector as a whole.

Finally I do like the way that they integrate Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms within the site and don’t initially send people off away from the corporate site – this is a key lesson I think we can all learn from.

On a separate but linked note, the way that the online services and transactions are promoted on Utah is not something I feel would encourage people to interact online….but the social aspects are good….the reality is the online services are where the costs savings are.