As is the way of the internet, following a line of links led me to the August edition of The Right Connection, newsletter of the Government Communication and Information System department.
It's a surprisingly good read! Maybe the first couple of articles didn't exactly float my boat - but then there are some absolutely brilliant articles on marketing after that. And it was the one on social media by Stuart Moerdyk that really got my attention.
Clearly government has recognised the power of social media and is discussing what they are going to do about it. This paragraph by Stuart sums up the problem:
Given that one of the founding notions in setting up this website was to encourage government engagement online, particularly on regulatory compliance and dealing with red tape, I admit I'm looking forward to reading the next edition.Anyway, last month we discussed the need for a SMAERTO as the core entity in the drive to manage online communications and then decided that we’d get stuck into BRM in this issue as the first step. BRM? Brand Reputation Management. It should be self explanatory, but essentially, we are going to try to search for any content online that influences perception with regard to our brand, service or product. Then, we will monitor, analyse and only then engage these instances or references before reporting back to the organisation. In some instances, if there is uncertainty, reporting back on issues should be the course of action taken before engaging. Remember, that there are many who’ve elected not to engage for fear of making things worse as there is a strong possibility that responding incorrectly will make things worse. Although I believe that not doing anything is about the worst thing you can do, I would advise proceeding with great caution. There are rules or guidelines to consider before engaging, which we will cover later.
But for now I'm quite impressed that government is looking at engaging social media at all. There certainly didn't seem to be much prospect of that not so long ago.