#PSFBuzz: Losing Control

Thursday, July 16, 2009 7:20 | Filed in Public Sector, Social Media, Standards, Technology, twitter

This one, more fully titled “Losing Control: why people will say what they want about you anyway” was presented by Al Smith (@alncl) of Newcastle City Council.

At this point I must also remember to thank Goss Interactive, who have a very useful habit of providing pens and notepads at these events. Anyway, after that message from our sponsor, we’ll return to Al…

Al has produced his own what I think I said post, so you’re welcome to take it all straight from the horse’s mouth, or — since you’re here already, you could finish reading mine and then read his. Yeah, that seems like a better idea.

He started with “broadcast is dead”, but of course that’s not strictly true, it’s more a case of “broadcast as we knew it is dead”, because people can now broadcast their own message themselves, and people no longer trust “corporate” broadcasters in the way that they used to. (It used to be the case that something seen as ‘official’ would be more accurate; now it is perceived that official = spin).

People Say Bad Things

But people can, and do, say mean things. You can trust them to do this. And there’s no reason why we should expect their online behaviour to be particularly any different to that you’d find in the pub.

So you shouldn’t be too surprised if you run across a tweet which says something like:

Fuck the Newcastle council people!unknown

What do you do? How do you join in? Do you take the kick-down-the-doors approach, the ban-the-internet approach, and try and get the user banned? In practice, you have two choices.

There’s the do nothing approach, to avoid giving the people extra publicity — ask yourself whether you really want to have that particular argument in a public space?

When To Engage

Or do you do something? Do you engage or do you let it slide? Al suggested we use CitizenSheep’s method for deciding how to manage your online reputation. (It’s a nice simple flow chart, and it’s probably something which should be used as a staple for decision-making of this nature)

You have to decide what you can control. You can’t control what people are saying about you, but you can control how your staff use social media through acceptable use policies — it therefore can become a management or disciplinary issue if they act in an inappropriate manner.

And you have to understand when it is important to wade in. For example, that “Fuck the Newcastle council people!” tweet didn’t in fact refer to Newcastle upon Tyne: it referred to one of the Newcastles in Ireland… if @NewcastleCC had gone wading in here, they might have risked looking like idiots, so it’s important to be clear you’ve got the relevant facts before you begin!

Understand What You Are Doing

“Loose tweets sink fleets!”

It’s worthwhile taking the time to understand how a particular social media platform works, and what is, and is not, seen as acceptable behaviour (what’s the appropriate netiquette?) otherwise if you jump in feet first when you don’t really know what you are doing, you could make a complete hash of it like Habitat did (Note: see How Not To Use Twitter and UK Furniture company spams Twitter).

There was also the fuss over the offending Plymouth tweet, which led to Plymouth Council banning the use of twitter on their networks, and which many of us hadn’t seen until Al’s presentation.

@NewcastleCC on Twitter

Newcastle uses their twitterstream to give out information such as news, events, jobs and ‘extras’, with these extras being manually added information (responses, comments etc) rather than aggregated RSS feeds in order to help provide a personal as opposed to an entirely corporate face (as being too corporate puts people off –again, it’s likely to be seen as ‘spun’).

Newcastle were interested to discover that the news represented the most clicked links from their twitterstream (as opposed to jobs, which is much bigger on the website), and are separating out different types of tweet into different accounts — you have @toonlibraries representing the libraries, with other ones also being planned for events and customer service/local information.

“What does success look like?”

It’s difficult to know: but the Newcastle Twitterstream is certainly providing some people with useful information — it has more than 2,000 followers and is generating over 15,000 click throughs per … some unit of time (would have been helpful if I’d noted this down!)

And one for the future — while there doesn’t seem to be anything as yet resembling a hyperlocal blogging community on Tyneside, there are a lot of people taking photos and putting them on Flickr. So Newcastle Council are also considering using Flickr as a source of images from around Newcastle: if people on Flickr give permission to use their images, they might for example get access to tours of public buildings not generally available, or find their photo on the cover of the council magazine… (you need to be alert to the opportunities of social media as well as the risks)

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7 Comments to #PSFBuzz: Losing Control

  1. sdcsmith2000 (simon smith) says:

    July 16th, 2009 at 7:06 am

    interesting view of @alanc pres to #psfbuzz RT @ ThePickards New post: #PSFBuzz: Losing Control http://tinyurl.com/lngd4s

  2. sdcsmith2000 (simon smith) says:

    July 16th, 2009 at 7:08 am

    try again interesting view of @alncl pres to #psfbuzz RT @ ThePickards New post: #PSFBuzz: Losing Control http://tinyurl.com/lngd4s

  3. alncl (Alastair Smith) says:

    July 16th, 2009 at 8:28 am

    RT @sdcsmith2000: interesting view of @alncl pres to #psfbuzz RT @ThePickards: New post: #PSFBuzz: Losing Control http://tinyurl.com/lngd4s

  4. sarahlay (sarahlay) says:

    July 16th, 2009 at 8:32 am

    RT @sdcsmith2000: interesting view of @alncl pres to #psfbuzz RT @ThePickards: New post: #PSFBuzz: Losing Control http://tinyurl.com/lngd4s

  5. Al Smith says:

    July 16th, 2009 at 12:02 pm

    Hiya, the stats for clicks etc. were since mid-January when we started recording clicks.

  6. leejorgensen (Lee Jorgensen) says:

    July 16th, 2009 at 6:31 pm

    RT @ThePickards: New post: #PSFBuzz: Losing Control http://tinyurl.com/lngd4s #fb / will be taking @alncl approach to twitter for bwd soon

  7. 1234test.com says:

    August 31st, 2011 at 1:31 am

    Queens University Blog…

    …It’s a known truth that right knowledge can be very important when we are doing something new and even more it if is important to us…..

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