A Few Minutes With…. with a regular feature at the Essex Digital Awards when we discuss a hot topic from the digital world with an expert or influential big wig from around the county.
We recently caught up with David Wilde, an EDA 2015 judge and the Director of Information Services at Essex County Council to get his thoughts on how they use social media at the local authority.
Could you describe your organisation’s activity on social networks?
We’re very active on Twitter, it’s great for alerts on services. Facebook is great for keeping in touch with some of the people we support and LinkedIn really good for engaging with businesses across Essex. ECC also has its own YouTube channel and is increasingly using videos to share information with people in Essex alongside using it extensively for internal training and communications. We also do a lot on collaboration sites and colleagues in Libraries, Visit Essex and Essex Records Office are active with our residents across social media.
On big projects social media offers a smart and easy way of linking up with external partners and organisations to work together. Superfast Essex is a good example of a countywide project doing just that. It’s building up presence across all these social media channels to reach both residents and businesses and gaining support from other local authorities, the Government, and our commercial partners, BT and Openreach, through a simple retweet, or Facebook tag.
- The first ECC social media account was set up in December 2008 – the corporate Twitter account (@Essex_CC). There are now 28 active Twitter accounts. (Superfast Essex (@SuperfastEssex) was set up only last year.)
- The current active ECC social media accounts have:
- Over 2,065 Facebook likes
- 80,700 Twitter followers
- The most popular tweet in 2014 was “#tweetyourfeet” for the Domestic Abuse campaign
Are there elements of your organisation now that would not have been possible without social media?
It isn’t about social media doing something totally new, but it is about being able to connect much more easily, quickly and informally with residents, visitors to Essex and businesses. I think we have only scratched the surface though, the more we get into collaboration with communities the more exciting social media will get.
How has your relationship with your customers/clients changed with the dawn of social media?
Hugely. Response times are much quicker, people will not wait a week for an answer and why should they? Also, two way engagement can be much more effective. The darker side however is the speed with which misinformation can be spread and of course safeguarding our vulnerable residents is tougher in this environment.
Which social media campaigns or accounts have really caught your eye recently?
The Orange and O2 flash mobs were great and a lot of the netmums stuff is really good.
What have you found to be the most positive and negative aspects of using social media for your business?
Most positive has to be better engagement, most negative is misinformation.
What advice would you give to businesses or other organisations looking to improve their social media activity?
Be really clear who your target audiences are, pick the right media to reach them, don’t overdo it and humour only works in some contexts so be careful!!