Jeremy Gould, the Whitehall Webby, has posted Part Two of his Six Approaches for Social Media Adoption in Govt. – Listening.

It is a critical and oft overlooked aspect of using Social Media.  The inclination is that because the tools are so easy to set up and use, we can just get out there and communicate.  It was the first mistake we made on the CivicSurf project.  We got the Cllrs up and blogging as quickly as we could without stopping and telling them to look around and read what is already going on.

We’ve recently experimented with Netvibes as a way of setting up dashboards, but found them a little limiting.  So we’re developing something a little more attuned to our needs.  More news soon.

The other aspect of listening is that it does take time.  Finding and setting up RSS feeds probably comes naturally to those of you reading this in Google Reader, but converting email alerts and updated static pages into RSS feeds is a little trickier, but the biggest barrier to many is that they don’t have the time.   Imagine you’re in Cambridge.  A Google Blog search throws up some Cambridge, UK items, but also a fair bit of Cambridge, MA, and even Cambridge, ON.  People who aren’t attuned to reading RSS feeds can benefit from some editorialisation and fine-tuning of feeds.

So, Jeremy’s right more listening is needed and we need to make it easier to listen.  As the trail-blazing Steph Gray says in comments we do need to accept a noise-to-signal ratio we should try to reduce it.  He also points out that listening hasn’t had the best take-up in his department and that is understandable.  It isn’t that exciting unless you can actually start shouting about what you are reading.


Steph Gray · 15th August 2008 at 11:56 am

Intriguing to hear you’re developing a better dashboard. I’m torn between sticking with a free, open tool like Netvibes or Pageflakes, and developing something more bespoke and simple to use – like a public sector version of Addictomatic. So far, we’ve been focussing on improving relevance by using feeds of hand-tagged Delicious links to create a sort of ‘Editors picks’ alongside filtering RSS feeds by keyword using FeedInformer or our own bespoke filtering tools.
Look forward to reading more about your solution…

Shane McCracken · 15th August 2008 at 12:45 pm

Key features include the ability to edit feeds, to integrate email alerts, and to allow users to create their own favourites. From our perspective the editing tools are critical so local area managers and policy experts can use it to inform their communities.
I’ll show you some early stuff when it is ready.

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