expertnet – "The United States General Services Administration (GSA) and the White House Open Government Initiative are soliciting your feedback on a concept for next generation citizen consultation, namely a government-wide software tool and process to elicit expert public participation"
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.
Beauty is the new must-have feature – “I’m predicting that we’ll start to have a non-functional requirement around making beautiful experiences when we build systems, and that we’ll be rubbish at it when it happens.”
Follow Finder by Google – “Follow Finder analyzes public social graph information (following and follower lists) on Twitter to find people you might want to follow.”
Enterprise 2.0 and improved business performance – “Despite growing evidence, which I’ve presented here and elsewhere, there still remains for many people a real question about the overall ability of social software to improve how organizations get things done.”
Why does government struggle with innovation? – “If innovation is becoming a core attribute required by government organisations, merely to keep up with the rate of change in society and the development of new ways to deliver services and fulfil public needs, perhaps we need to rewrite some of the rulebook, sacrificing part of our desire for stability in return for greater change.”
The Biggest Obstacle to Innovation – “There are many candidates for the biggest obstacle to innovation. You could try lack of management support, no employee initiative, not enough good ideas, too many good ideas but no follow-through just for starters. My nominee for The Biggest Obstacle to Innovation is: Inertia”
I’m being dropped into an “as yet undisclosed wilderness location” for five days of survival and adventure. The event will contain fundamental (with the emphasis on the mental) aspects of survival which “will challenge participants from dawn till dusk and beyond” (oh, good). I shall be expected to build a shelter, locate and prepare safe drinking water, light a fire without matches, forage for food, identify edible plants, navigate by sun and stars, use improvised first aid…OK, I’m talking myself out of it now…I’m assured that it’s a “fantastic mental and physical test” which will also give me a “huge sense of personal achievement”. Hmmm.
He is doing all this for the Anthony Nolan Trust, who provide lifesaving donors for patients in need of a bone marrow transplant.
It’s a great endeavour for a great cause. Please visit his JustGiving page and donate something. Also, please link to this, reblog it, tweet it, save it in Facebook…you know what to do.
Yesterday morning, the Conservative Party launched a new campaign for ‘honest food’ – which is all about labelling food with its country of origin. They do have a rather nice video:
I don’t usually drift into party political stuff on this blog, and I’m not really going to start now. For some reason though, this campaign caught my eye and I’m just going to look at the online elements of it and see how they might be improved.
The campaign has it’s own URL – www.honestfoodcampaign.com – which just diverts the user to a sub page of the main Conservative Party website. This is mistake number one for me, for a campaign to engage with a broader range of people, it needs to avoid heavy branding from a political party. By all means make it clear who is behind the campaign, but don’t alienate potential supporters by making it all about the party.
Honest Food – an intro to the campaign. There is lots of information available, but it is all in downloadable PDFs. Mistake number two.
– some quotes from celebrities. There’s no interaction at all. Mistake number three.
Our poll – some details of a survey completed on behalf of the Tories, with a download link to (guess what?) another PDF full of further information (not that I bothered to download it)
Get involved – it would appear that the only way to get involved is by emailing, or posting(!) misleading labels to the campaign organisers. These are then made available for people to view…in a downloadable PDF
At the bottom of each of these sections is a link to sign an online (Conservatives-hosted) petition.
That seems to be it.
Here’s what I would do to breath some life into this campaign:
Create a microsite, with very modest branding to host some decent levels of instantly viewable content, and get rid of the PDFs
Get more value from the celeb endorsements, perhaps by making them available for questions from the public through webchats or something similar, or even just by doing some video with them to make it more interesting
Create a space for people to talk about this issue with each other – maybe just a Facebook group, something simple
Make the process of providing photos of poor labelling more fun and social – make it an instantly updated online photo gallery. Accept photos from mobile phones and services like Flickr. Maybe even create an iPhone application to do it.
What I think this makes clear is that whilst people have been critical of Labour’s efforts online, the other parties by no means have it licked themselves. Also, for a campaign to be really successful I think you have to let people feel like they are a part of it, and make it their own. Throwing PDFs at them and getting them to sign a petition does doesn’t real cut it.