Friendless council

A tweet from the Public Sector Forums Twitter feed alerted me to this story of Stockport Council’s Facebook presence, which, at the time the article was written, wasn’t particularly popular:

A LOCAL authority which reached out to the Facebook generation has suffered an embarrassing snub.

Stockport council set up a page on the social networking site with the aim of spreading the word about its services.

But six months on, the authority has been exposed as an online pariah – after it attracted only six ‘fans’.

I’m delighted to say that as a result of this publicity, the Council now has 46 fans – almost as many as DavePress!

What can be learned from this? That if you build it, they won’t come.

Anything that a council, or any other organisation, does on the web needs to be pushed, promoted and managed. These are the human elements which are so important in engagement excercises. An online project like this will not succeed if you just put it together and then sit back expecting people to join in droves.

This is partly an online marketing issue, and partly one of community management. I doubt there are many in local government who have these skills listed as being required for their jobs, but they are becoming more and more necessary.

There is another issue, peculiar to Facebook, which is one of vocabulary. Does anyone really want to become a ‘fan’ of their local council? Surely there is some more appropriate wording that could be used…

4 thoughts on “Friendless council”

  1. Far better I would suggest to get out and join in the Conversations in other parts of thye Facebook party rather than expecting everyone to stop the conversations they wer having, come over to ‘MY’ corenr of the party and talk to ‘ME’.

  2. I feel for this council. Social Media tools such as Facebook were a common place measure is number of followers or dare I say it fans (Facebook) i work at the Foreign Office and we have on Facebook site for our US embassy. However Facebook is rountinely dangled our in front as a prospect. Fans fo the Foreign Office. Dedicated followers of fashion indeed.

    I am not personally an enthusiast of Facebook, never likes to be honest. But professionally I can see benefits and see some great examples such as We20 http://www.facebook.com/home.php#/group.php?gid=75976614672

    The main point is that when a government has presence on say Facebook or even Twitter is to understand that you must pay as much attention to growing and developing this space with the same respect as their website.

    You should promote your presence on social networks just as much as your website.

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