#testittuesday – public service use of twitter par excellence

I had a great day yesterday (Wednesday) at the FirePro seminar on social media use in Fire and Rescue Services.

I have a load of notes to type up and share here, but one thing really jumped out at me during the day – the #testittuesday campaign.

Basically, it’s a simple public safety campaign to get people to test their smoke alarms every week, on a Tuesday. The hashtag is used, and folk are encouraged to retweet it to get more coverage.

It was started by Elle from Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service, who gave an entertaining and informative presentation to the group about how it all came about. Unsurprisingly, there wasn’t a vast amount of planning – it just seemed like a good idea and Elle just got on with it.

Here’s why I think this is a great campaign, and an almost perfect use of Twitter as a public service campaign:

  • It’s completely within the existing culture of Twitter – all about the hashtag and the social nature of the message – it’s all about people passing it on
  • It’s simple – just a quick reminder to people to perform one straightforward action
  • Very low barriers to entry – no need to sign up for anything you aren’t already a member of. If you’re on twitter you see the message, and with one click you forward it on to your friends
  • It’s uncontroversial – nobody is going to take umbrage at being reminded to do something that’s easy to forget, and yet potentially life saving
  • It’s not about the fire service’s own twitter account – this isn’t some bid to get more followers. It’s about getting the message out to as many people as possible
  • It takes advantage of the trust people have in their networks. If a fire service asks me on twitter to check my fire alarm, I might do it – but I’m more likely to if some of my friends do so

I think there’s lots to learn here for all public services wanting to make the most of social media channels. Always consider the medium you are using, and what sort of behaviour works well. Don’t ask too much of people, keep it simple and straightforward. Above all, don’t make it about you or your organisation, but about the message you want to get out.

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Dave Briggs

I'm an experienced senior manager in digital and ICT, looking for interim engagements to modernise technology teams to help organisations transform.

4 thoughts on “#testittuesday – public service use of twitter par excellence”

  1. Thanks Dave, from myself, and I’m sure from everyone who attended yesterday, it was a fun filled, useful, positive day filled with ideas and encouragement! To me, the #TestitTuesday campaign is just the start, other Fire Services will have just as good, if not better, ideas I just happened to be the one who got there first (yay ha ha)

  2. Dave

    Well done Elle.

    If we have “check them on Wednesday” or ” Check them every month on the 3rd “, will we have less cancers ?

    Spread the prevention-mechanisms or early warning checks ?

    Maybe the NHS do this already.

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