Who’s listening on Facebook and Twitter

An article about Port Pirie Council’s use of social media prompted Bang the Table CEO, Matt Crozier, to question who’s listening on Facebook and Twitter?

I’ve been reading LGA News from South Australia (as you do on a rainy public holiday….no?).  It’s the June/July issue if you can get hold of a copy.

On page 5 is an article by Paul Deb the CEO of the City of Burnside talking about use of Budget Allocator and EngagementHQ as part of a broad engagement process about Council expenditure priorities.  It’s always good to read about clients using our engagement tools to good effect.  But what I wanted to share is a little further on in the publication on page 7.  This article is by Andrew Johnson the CEO of Port Pirie Council and is entitled ‘Social Media Improves Community Engagement’.

What caught my eye was this from the start of the second paragraph:

Council has found that generally Facebook is used by the local community while twitter followers are non-locals and the media.

I found this to be a really interesting insight which throws up a bunch of questions.

Is the experience of Port Pirie typical? If so should Government Twitter strategies recognise this difference in audience and target the media specifically?

Perhaps they already are.  I’ve blogged in the past about how Government twitter streams tend to be bland one way broadcast of media releases which ignore the true potential of the platform.  I’ve actually come across an organisation recently where the staff are only allowed to broadcast on Twitter and are barred from engaging people who respond – I thought this was complete madness but perhaps Andrew’s observation gives some justification to this policy? Or maybe this is a self fulfilling prophecy – government organisations do nothing but share media statements so only the media bother to listen.

I’d be really interested in the views of other practitioners on this issue and will be cross posting this on the Online Community Engagement Linkedin page where we’ve had some really interesting discussions this year.

I should finish by saying that it’s clear from the rest of the article that Port Pirie are getting some useful community feedback through their Facebook page. It’s always good to see commitment to online engagement and I hope this is the start of wider ranging opportunities for the community to get involved assisting Council in it’s task.

Photo Credits: Craig Sunter

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