Tag Archives: communications channels

Looking at government web analytics

25 Nov

Well, I had a very productive day in Canberra yesterday, having gone over for an event run by the Australian Bureau of Statistics on Web Analytics in Government. It was a full house, with even resident federal parliamentary tech evangelist Sen. Kate Lundy having to be turned down.

One of my favourite ways to take notes at these sessions is using mindmaps, with XMind being my tool of choice. I’ve not had a chance to do a unified map to link up the various speaker themes as yet, but there was quite a number of common themes across the spectrum. Speakers covered areas including how we’re doing it, highlighting the value analytics provides to government communication, and how much further things have to go to help agencies and stakeholders understand the value of communicating via the web.

Sadly, I needed to leave before the panel discussion commenced otherwise I would have missed my flight home. Reading Craig Thomler‘s (author of the eGov AU blog) twitter posts for the panel session, the discussion focused around if the needs of commercial and government analytics are any different. The panel of experts assembled, including Rod Jacka, Hurol Inan and others was split on the question with two either way.

So you can get an idea of what was discussed at the sessions, here’s my mindmaps from the day. They should provide you some good food for thought on the topics discussed and prod you into action. If you want the full XMind map files to reuse them, please drop me a line.

Apologies for the gallery below not providing the best way to lay these out, just trying to get them up as quickly as possible so they can be of use to people.


An expeirment in Twitter

27 Mar

One of the easiest things an agency can do is communicate using the tools and sites their customers and target audiences are already using. So it was a no-brainer for me eariler this week, when at midnight and still awake under the influence of cold and flu medication I decided it was time for my agency to ‘tweet’.

Why tweet you ask?

It wasn’t exactly a question I asked myself when I made the decision to go for it. Looking back on it, there are a few good reasons to do it.

1. How long before the twitter username your agency might want is already taken?

At the rate things are going, not very long. The name I wanted when setting up an account for our agency was already taken by the Florida Progressive Coalition. I had to think for a few minutes before I finally came up with something short, suitable and memorable.

Already there’s cases where imposters are taking people’s names on twitter, famous for being famous Kim Kardashian being one, Australian Security Intellegance Organisation being another, a fake account for federal Communications Minister Stephen Conroy – the operator recently being outed as an employee of communications company Telstra and contends he lost his job as a result of the harmless fun.

And while fakes may be the order of the day with the username you already want, there are some which are useful. An example of this is the Transperth Bot, which collates all the posts on twitter relating to Transperth, the brand for metropolitan public transportation operated by the Public Transport Authority. Granted it’s not Transperth and it is doing something useful – but what if the Public Transport Authority wants an official twitter service to quickly communicate with its customers?

While writing this post, I came across an article from The Next Web, which is a brief how-to for recovering the twitter username you wanted. But the question is when your Agency CEO/CTO or Marketing/Communications Manager comes to you asking to setup an official twitter service – would you rather have something ready to go for them and keep up the reputation of being an miricle worker, or spend a few days in the muck and mire because you’re trying to get that username you really want. It’s exactly what I advised a counterpart earlier this week when in the process of researching what other agencies are up to in this space, and he’s prepared for when his agency wants to go down that path.

2. Your customers are already using it

This requires no further explanation. If you customers are already using the service, why not communicate with them using these channels, reducing your cost of interaction and getting information to them quicker instead of them having to hunt it down and find it.

A good example of this is Tourism Western Australia, who’s twitter account I found while searching for agencies in my area who were already using it. They are the only once I’ve found thus far, and on a one-way communications method they are using it well to notify people of travel deals and offers available from their tourist portal, westernaustralia.net.

Sure, information regarding the discounts, offers and events of interest is already available from the website – but your customers will only find it if they are specifically visiting the website or looking for that information. Twitter is allowing them to push this information out to interested people, and the results are showing having acheived 562 followers in a space of two months.

3. Highlight hidden web content

Most agencies have pretty large websites, and information regarding updates or new content doesn’t always make it to the main page. Sure, you can have a RSS feed or list of recent changes – but why not write something short about the content and push a link to it out on a twitter feed. Takes about 15 seconds to do, and using a hash tag allows you to mark the content so people searching for that information on twitter can find it quickly.

4. Additional communications channel

One of the features of twitter is being able to send @replies and direct messages to communicate amongst twitter users. Once your twittering becomes well established, users will use these to engage with you and get responses to issues and questions.

If your users start to use with them, make sure you engage and engage quickly. Its a good idea to use a toolkit such as Tweetdeck to monitor these and ensure you reply promptly.

Just remember, be careful when it comes to privacy and confidentiality issues. While you can use the service to give basic information or refer people to the right area, don’t provide services, details or support which is normally reserved for once someone’s identity has been confirmed. If it looks like the users problem is diverting into that area, send them a direct message asking for their contact details so you can refer their enquiry onto a specialist for a direct response.

There are some good examples of how companies have used twitter to augment their service, support and enquiry channels to their advantage and benefit, a great example being much derided US internet service provider Comcast. Used smartly and wisely, twitter can become a powerful tool to respond to the needs of unhappy customers, or just demonstrating that their are real people who care working for your agency.

5. It’s easy

It doesn’t take much to get setup and start using twitter – as long as your agencies’ IT group doesn’t block access to it. If they do, it shouldn’t be hard to get them to remove the block citing your social media strategy, or at the very least get a privilege escalation so you can access and use the site to communicate for your agency.

Anyway, that’s a quick summary of the reasons of why I’ve gone down the twitter road. I’ll be seeing how this little expeirment goes over the next few months and I’ll keep you posted on the results.