We looked as some of the best examples of Social media use in Ireland with a view as to what could be learnt from those examples. We also considered who should have responsibility & ownership of Social Media within the organisation and whether policies and guidelines are needed.
Primarily it is used for one-way notifications to citizens in relation to Weather, Roads and Water services bulletins. There is limited two-way communication in most cases and not many positive messages to promote the activities of the council. One council, South Dublin, is actively engages in two-way communication on Facebook following a decision by management to do so and training large number of staff in how to engage with their citizens using Facebook. Their experience and feedback was positive.
Ideally there would be a communications unit with overall responsibility and staff trained in Social media use. However our budget constraints mean we need to share responsibility for content between the Press Officer and Web developer. Our plan is to train selected staff from each service department in Facebook and give them responsibility for relevant content and two-way communication.
Recommendation2 Use the range of Social Media tools available (e.g. Twitter, Facebook, Websites, Blogs, Youtube, Mapping) as appropriate to the audience and the content being provided.
Recommendation3 Its critical to provide appropriate , relevant and timely information flows between the service delivery structures and social media systems.
Recommendation4 Instil confidence through your online conversation but follow up (especially if things don't go according to plan).
Recommendation5 Use appropriate language and tone and content for the medium. Most people are on social media to be both entertained and informed. A stream of notification messages in official language will not engage people.
Recommendation6 There are times when the conversation in Social Media needs to be taken offline. Its not always the best place for in-depth responses, especially to issues that affect only one person.