Social Media Assessment for Public Sector

A 4 minute read written by Paul July 6, 2011

Engaging in social media communication is an area of confusion and concern for most public sector organizations.

  • How do you start?
  • What are your risks?
  • Who should do this work?
  • How much time will this take your staff and at what cost?
  • What are the privacy implications of getting involved?

The bottom line for most public sector organizations is that it’s inappropriate to engage in personal conversations with your constituents, and much of what happens in the social space is interpersonal interaction. However, it’s frustrating to feel like you have to stand in the living room at the party while all the interesting conversation goes on in the kitchen.

We work with our government customers to help their teams identify where they should engage and what they should step aside. We’ve created an assessment tool to identify social platforms that provide an acceptable mix of benefit and liability.

Compare platforms and identify where you find high reward and low risk, cost, complexity. That’s where you should start.

Reward

Reward is a positive measurement. To assess possible reward, ask yourself:

  • What improvements in communication can we achieve by practicing in this area?
  • Is there an existing demand or expectation from our audience that we are not meeting by avoiding this?
  • Can we reduce the cost of delivering services?

A row of five trophies with only one trophy illuminated By engaging in this area of practice we receive no identifiable benefit.

A row of five trophies with all five trophies illuminated By engaging in this area of practice we have the potential to directly meet an identified business goal for our organization.

Risk

Risk is a negative measurement. To assess possible risk, ask yourself:

  • Are there privacy or reputation threats associated with practicing in this category?
  • Are there any potential legal issues associated with practicing in this category of social media?
  • Are there significant change management issues associated with adopting these practices?

A row of five dice with only one dice illuminated By engaging in this area of practice we can identify no specific threat or risk to reputation.

A row of five dice with all five illuminated By engaging in this area of practice we directly open ourselves to legal or financial threats.

Complexity

Complexity is a negative measurement. To assess possible complexity, ask yourself:

  • What kind of skill set or technology is required to practice in this category?
  • Do you need expensive tools or processes?
  • Do we have the right people in place to practice in this area?

A row of five puzzle pieces with only one puzzle piece illuminated Our staff already understand how to practice in this area and we own all technology required to produce content.

A row of five puzzle pieces with all five puzzle pieces illuminated Our staff do not currently understand how to practice in this area, we do not have a relationship with a service provider in this area or we do not own the technology required to produce content.

Cost

Cost is a negative measurement. To assess possible cost, ask yourself:

  • What is the cost to your organization to secure professional services, production services or internal HR costs?
  • Do we need to buy equipment or software?
  • Do we need to bring in an external vendor or agency?

A row of five dollar signs with only one dollar sign illuminated The total cost, including staff or contractor time, to engage in this area of practice is negligible.

A row of five dollar signs with all five dollar signs illuminated The cost to procure software/technology, engage an external service vendor or produce the content required to engage in this area of practice is prohibitive or outside of our operational budget.

Sample Assessment: Twitter

Here’s a sample assessment of Twitter for a municipal client:

Reward - Test

A row of five trophies with all five trophies illuminated

Twitter provides a mechanism to quickly monitor conversations and opinions within your community and to engage with your residents to shape opinion and publicize policies and projects. Reward is very high.

Risk

A row of five dice with four of the dice illuminated

Twitter can proliferate in your organization. If staff manage their own accounts there is no opportunity to apply workflow and review, or to store conversations and enable corporate memory. Risk is also quite high.

Complexity

A row of five puzzle pieces with only one of the puzzle pieces illuminated

Twitter is extremely easy to use, requires no infrastructure and can be integrated quickly with internal systems. Complexity is very low.

Cost

A row of five dollar signs with only two of the dollar signs illuminated

Twitter does not have any direct associated costs, however Twitter activity needs to be monitored, so there are some resource implications. Cost is low.

Summary

Twitter offers very high reward at low cost and complexity. Therefore if risk can be managed, it provides an excellent opportunity for a municipal client.