Monday, April 5, 2010

Government & Social Media: Tools & Techniques (Part II)

Recently in Canada, Prime Minister Stephen Harper of the Conservative Party ventured into YouTube territory with a video soliciting questions by text and video for his response to the Speech from the Throne.

More than 1,800 questions were submitted and approximately 175,000 votes cast regarding what the Prime Minster should talk about. The following week, an exclusive interview was posted on YouTube with Harper responding to questions from Canadians.

While the responses seemed canned and it was a buttoned-up approach doing an online video, it was a good step forward for the federal government to be more transparent, answering questions on Canadians' minds about the economy, foreign aid, climate change, and the military commitment in Afghanistan. With more than 138,000 channel views for Talk Canada and millions more who heard about the event taking place, the government impressed upon its young demographic and target audience that it was making the effort.

Social media channels are a way for governments to listen to their constituents by:
  • Using tools like Facebook, Twitter, online forums and message boards to monitor misconceptions and discover important conversations;
  • Identify new influencers in online communities through tools like Technorati;
  • Using bookmarking tools like Delicious as part of ongoing issues management processes, media clippings reports, and social media metrics reporting;
  • Setting up blogs to share information about new programs, laws and initiatives so constituents can go there directly for up-to-date information;
  • Leverage government experts and evangelists on Twitter, Facebook and blogs;
  • Develop a Flickr community with a photo campaign;
  • Utilize real-time feedback directly from constituents about ways to improve social services and proactively incorporate feedback into their strategic planning cycles.
There are many other ways social media can be built into a bigger part of the government PR strategy - can you think of any?

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