Time to change?

It’s a good idea to constantly evaluate your business to make sure you’re offering best in class services. Whether this is through retraining staff, improving customer relations or keeping up with the latest technology…

An area that is easily improved, but often avoided or seen as confusing is social media. By using a combination of tools, you can reach a wide audience for relatively little cost. It’s better to be well informed before approaching a new venture so perhaps a social media training course could set you on the right path to success.

A new study into local councils use of social media found that not all local authorities were promoting the use of either Facebook or Twitter to reach their target audiences. Around 61 UK councils do not use it. Richard Stokoe, the London fire brigades Head of Communications said that councils weren’t stepping up to the call to improve online communications after last year’s riots “The interim report by [chair of the Riots Communities and Victims Panel] Darra Singh into the English riots in August specifically singled out local authorities as failing to use or understand social media. It is clear that despite these warnings there are many local authorities that have ignored this message. This isn’t a nice-to-have “add on” anymore. This is a crucial public safety and reassurance tool.”

However, some are using these tools effectively; Coventry City Council has the highest number of followers on Facebook and Twitter with 24,080 people showing an interest in their work. By being able to use this medium to get in contact with people councils are more likely to be aware of issues quicker and can create a more positive public profile for themselves with minimum effort. In cases like the London riots it could be used as a public reassurance tool, and failure to use these methods could put public safety at risk. On the other hand, poor use could also anger the public perhaps if they didn’t get a response to a tweet or post – so it’s important to keep an account up to date if you want it to work in your favour.

It has been suggested that private sector services may be more likely to use social media, Roy Poynter says “private companies are often happy with any new customers, the public sector are sometimes try very hard to reach the ‘right’ new customers. In the context of this difference, the Internet in general, and social media in particular, can be a double-edged sword”. If the public sector attracts the wrong sort of target audience through a social media campaign, time is used up dealing with these rather than those intended. For example the UK advisory service used social networking site Habbo positively in its “Talk to Frank” drug aware campaign, but some health campaigns are less successful as they attract “the ‘worried well’ rather than key ‘at risk’ groups. This means that staff are busy, people are coming through the doors, but the number of ‘at risk’ people seen can drop”.

If you’re unsure if social media is for you and want help developing your skills then get in touch with Bluewood Training.

Written by Megan – www.bluewoodtraining.co.uk – April 2012

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