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Social Media in Empowerment DRAFT A briefing note for all decision makers, senior managers and
Social Media in Empowerment DRAFT A briefing note for all decision makers, senior managers and

Social Media in Empowerment

DRAFT

A briefing note for all decision makers, senior managers and elected members regarding the role of social media in increasing participation in decision making.

Richard Wilson Stephen Frost

Spring 2010

izwe insights 2010

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ABOUT IZWE

We believe that everyone should have a say in how their world works.

Involving people and communities in the decisions that affect them ensures that the decision-makers remain in touch

and that the big issues are dealt with effectively - because everyone has something valuable to contribute. That's why

we've created izwe.

It's a new platform for decision makers and people like you to come together at your own convenience to create the

change you want to see.

izwe is driven by you, our partners and users. You will help decide on our strategy, what we do and how we spend

our profits. At least 15% of our profits will be donated to good causes every year and you will decide where it goes.

izwe is a new kind of organisation dedicated to maximising our positive impact in the world and empowering all who

are part of izwe: the team, our partners, but most of all you, the users. Together we are izwe.

WHAT IS IZWE

We’re a social enterprise made up of researchers, community experts, web people and policy experts.!

izwe was set up by Richard Wilson, Nick Nielsen and Benoit Thieulin. Richard previously founded the public

engagement think tank, Involve; Nick founded youth empowerment charity Envision which won the Guardian Charity

Award 2008 and Benoit founded La Netscouade who have delivered some of the most successful e-democracy

campaigns across Europe.

They are all empowerment enthusiasts, having delivered many high profile community participation projects for local,

national and international governments across the world. Most recently these have included at the UN Conference on

Climate Change in Copenhagen (www.wwviews.org) and European Citizens Consultation (www.european-citizens-

consultations.eu), both of which combined community events with international e-participation. They also delivered

the biggest events for the Swedish and French EU Presidencies and were involved in drafting much of the UK

government’s participation policy over the past decade.

!

Now they have decided to pool their experience and build a platform for significant change. This is izwe.

have decided to pool their experience and build a platform for significant change. This is izwe

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have decided to pool their experience and build a platform for significant change. This is izwe

1. INTRODUCTION

75% of adults in the UK now have access to the Internet 1 , and 73% of them use the internet daily 2 . The

British spend more time online than they do watching TV; they work, play and even fall in love online. The

web is changing almost all parts of our lives and all industries. The closure of many local newspapers, TV

stations and record labels is just the tip of the new media iceberg.

Government is already adapting to this changing landscape. This briefing paper focuses on social media

and outlines what government can do to make the most of the opportunities it creates. It also comes with

a warning that some of the most excluded in society remain offline; however they are probably more likely

to get to you through social media than through any other route.

they are probably more likely to get to you through social media than through any other

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they are probably more likely to get to you through social media than through any other

2. WHAT IS SOCIAL MEDIA?

Social media is that bit of the internet which is social. If you’re reading this briefing paper chances are

that you already have a Facebook account; 23 million of us already do in the UK, with the over 50s

counting for more than 2 million UK users. Facebook is the world’s biggest social networking site allowing

people to communicate, manage relationships and share things such as video and photos.

Many of the

most popular social websites (such as Bebo, Twitter and Google Mail) have a wide range of functionality;

the following five headings cover just the most popular functions:

Social networking (e.g. Facebook, Flickr, izwe)

Instant communication: video, audio and text (e.g. Google Mail, Skype)

Blogging & commenting (e.g. the Guardian's “Comment is Free”, blogs)

Status updates (e.g. Twitter, Facebook, izwe)

Content sharing (e.g. YouTube, Flickr).

‣ Status updates (e.g. Twitter, Facebook, izwe) ‣ Content sharing (e.g. YouTube, Flickr). izwe insights 2010

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‣ Status updates (e.g. Twitter, Facebook, izwe) ‣ Content sharing (e.g. YouTube, Flickr). izwe insights 2010

3. HOW CAN SOCIAL MEDIA HELP ME?

In short, social media can help you connect and communicate with more people, more effectively. Ofcom

recently found 3

that, in general, people are far more likely to get involved with government related

activities through social media than any other route, and this difference is more pronounced for

traditionally excluded groups. As our lives become busier 4 and the internet becomes ever more integrated

into our daily routines through the spread of wireless hotspots and mobile devices, the pressure to

redesign government in response to this has become immense. The main thrust of the argument is that

most people are not prepared to give up their spare time for community forums or consultation events –

unless the issue is important or controversial enough to do so. Many more, however, are happy to spend

a few minutes on a website and get involved, providing the website is well designed.

Be warned though: the competition for people’s attention online is fierce. Your offer must be compelling

to win in the online market.

When government does it right, and it often does, there are a wide range of substantive benefits

government can deliver through using social media. These include:

Improving the quality of decisions (e.g. through involving larger numbers of people in key decisions

such as service changes or major planning proposals)

Improving service quality (e.g. providing simple mechanisms for service user feedback and monitoring)

Making government more transparent (e.g. putting more information online which local communities

can use for other services and to better understand why decisions are made)

Saving money (e.g. social media if used well can reduce the costs of consultation, communications

and social research)

Building social capital (e.g. encouraging online social networking in your community can translate into

stronger actual communities – leading to safer communities etc.)

Increasing your democratic legitimacy (providing more opportunities for elected members to interact

with citizens and through tools such as e-petitions – government can become tangibly more open)

Engaging staff (e.g. using social networking in-house to support a more cohesive workforce)

‣ Engaging staff (e.g. using social networking in-house to support a more cohesive workforce) izwe insights

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‣ Engaging staff (e.g. using social networking in-house to support a more cohesive workforce) izwe insights

4. CURRENT LANDSCAPE

Your social media landscape is defined by your interests and location. There are the major global sites,

which have become integral to the social media infrastructure (see 4.1), and then there are local and

hyperlocal sites (4.2).

4.1 Global Sites 5

Site

Core Audience

Key Functionality

How Should I Use

Bebo

Young People (under 17)

Visual history & media platform

Engage younger community with multimedia content

Facebook

Young to middle age (Ages 25 - 54)

Friend management and status updates

Hub for other social media activity, promoting events, links to existing online services, highlighting news

it is a flexible platform

of interest

highlighting news it is a flexible platform of interest Google Mail Users of other Google services

Google Mail

Users of other Google services (All ages)

Email and instant messaging

Email is the easiest way to communicate with and respond to large numbers of people.

Instant messaging can be valuable for internal communications

messaging can be valuable for internal communications Twitter Young professionals but growing quickly (Ages 25-34)

Twitter

Young professionals but growing quickly (Ages

25-34)

Status updates

Listening to the community, proactive engagement, direct responses to other users and linking to other web content and services

proactive engagement, direct responses to other users and linking to other web content and services izwe

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proactive engagement, direct responses to other users and linking to other web content and services izwe

4.2 Local Site Examples

Norwich Paper Mill Yard Residents 6

The residents of Norwich Paper Mill Yard have created a

Facebook group to provide a place for the community

to “have a moan and a groan” about their area but also

for people to connect with each other and strengthen

community cohesion. The organisers link the group with

the City Living Management committee so that the

issues that are discussed online are channelled into

the issues that are discussed online are channelled into existing decision making processes. Locals also use

existing decision making processes. Locals also use the website to highlight council services and solve

problems themselves. It is similar to a regular resident's panel but it lowers the barriers to accessing

information and contributing than just offline meetings would allow.

Harringay Online

This

hyperlocal

website

is

a

social

network

for

residents of the ward of Harringay within the London

borough of Haringey. The local community treats it like

a social café and the topics covered range from local

history and general gossip through to organising offline

events. The citizens have successfully used the site to

engage with decision makers both through their own

mobilisation (e.g. petitions) and also by inviting local

own mobilisation (e.g. petitions) and also by inviting local decision makers to use Harringay Online to

decision makers to use Harringay Online to answer questions or post their own thoughts and updates.

decision makers to use Harringay Online to answer questions or post their own thoughts and updates.

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decision makers to use Harringay Online to answer questions or post their own thoughts and updates.

5. WHAT SHOULD I DO?

5.1 Pointers

Don’t get lost in the hype or in confusing descriptions, but concentrate

on social

media as

a

communication tool. However, with any communication method, there are some essential guidelines to

keep in mind:

Listen

Social media has changed the dynamic of communication and engagement from a monologue to a

dialogue. This shift means that it is important to use the opportunity created by these tools to listen to the

community and, in small or big ways, address the topics it wants to discuss.

Respond

To really embrace social media is to respond and use the interactivity it allows for your benefit. This is an

essential and often overlooked component of any social media approach. As Camden Council's Twitter

experience shows , the emphasis is as much on responding to the content and contributions of others as

it is on your own message.

Engage

There is a general guideline for using social media that at least half of the content you create should be a

response to someone else. This helps to build relationships with the community and makes responses to

your content far more likely.

Keep it human

Keep communications human, not corporate. Politicians are often gifted at communicating in a highly

personal way, while big organisations may not always be.

often gifted at communicating in a highly personal way, while big organisations may not always be.

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often gifted at communicating in a highly personal way, while big organisations may not always be.
CASE STUDY: CAMDEN TALKING Camden Council’s approach to Twitter has become a best practice example
CASE STUDY: CAMDEN TALKING
Camden Council’s approach to Twitter has become a best practice example of how a Council (or any organisation)
can use the site to communicate to its residents and open up a new channel for the community to engage with the
Council.
As well as spreading its news, the Council also uses Twitter to engage with community questions and conversations
on Twitter about Camden. By being responsive and proactive the Council has embedded itself as part of the Twitter
community and created new relationships between users and their services.
USEFUL LINKS
http://www.camden.gov.uk/ccm/content/council-and-democracy/about-the-council/about-this-site/camden-is-
talking-ontwitter/
http://twitter.com/Camdentalking
talking-ontwitter/ ‣ http://twitter.com/Camdentalking izwe insights 2010 9

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talking-ontwitter/ ‣ http://twitter.com/Camdentalking izwe insights 2010 9

5.2 Next steps

Step 1

Search for your organisation or location on Twitter and Facebook and see what is going on and if anyone

is talking about you.

Step 2

Set

clear

objectives

for

your

social

media

use

and

create

a

policy

that

helps

to

guide

your

communications and staff. Try and do this with as much staff participation as possible – the more it feels

like their own idea the more comfortable they will feel using it. For ideas on how best to write these try the

Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s Digital Diplomacy resource 7 and the Civil Service Code 8

Step 3

Start doing. Set up accounts on the services you think will be of use to your community and complement

your existing activities. Flickr and YouTube require little maintenance but something like a Twitter account

should be updated daily where possible – the more you use the services the more return you will see from

the community.

And finally

Evaluate your use and seek to identify if your community values the tools and where better use can be

made of them. This is such a new medium that constant evaluation and reflection is invaluable, as is

sharing best practice with other organisations you know who are also using these tools.

as is sharing best practice with other organisations you know who are also using these tools.

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as is sharing best practice with other organisations you know who are also using these tools.

6. WHAT ARE THE CHALLENGES?

Getting people onto your site

Your social media sites will be competing against many other sources (friends, celebrities, news,

entertainment etc.) and, against this background, people need to know your service exists and have a

reason to become part of your community. These may sound like simple hurdles but the number of social

media initiatives which have not achieved this points to a wider misconception that merely starting a

service is enough – this is definitely no longer the case (if it ever was).

Letting go of control

Every organisation (across all sector) that has made use of social media tools, has had to come to terms

with the fact that it may not necessarily have complete control over who engages with them online and

how the content they create is used by others. For some who are used to one-way communication or

more structured decision making processes, this can be one of the biggest challenges of social media.

Embracing Innovation

The use of social media tools in decision making, empowerment and engagement is still a new

methodology, and even though a community of best practice is developing it can be daunting to take

those first few steps. The “beta” tag with which websites approach their functionality and design is often

the antithesis of the way decision makers plan engagement processes.

and design is often the antithesis of the way decision makers plan engagement processes. izwe insights

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and design is often the antithesis of the way decision makers plan engagement processes. izwe insights

7. LOOKING FORWARD

Social media is notoriously unpredictable. Before Facebook took off there was much scepticism as to the

market for social networking. This unpredictability represents the excitement of using these services but

also the challenges. In such an environment, flexibility is key. You must be prepared to change what you

are doing in response to the results you are getting.

There are six factors which are likely to dominate the emerging field of public sector social media:

Co-production of services (e.g. involving citizens directly in the design and delivery of specific services),

co-production of information (e.g. using online surveys such as Survey Monkey) and other tools to create

social research quickly and accurately.

Bottom-Up (e.g. new proposals will emerge from the community that were never expected)

Top-Down & Bottom-Up (e.g. integration of government-led and community-led initiatives)

Visualisation of governance (e.g. making clear where elected members stand on issues and how they

have voted)

Mobile devices (e.g. the rise of mobile devices such as iPhones will make all of the above ever easier,

breaking down barriers to entry).

One thing is clear in 2010: more and more people will be online using social media and in order to engage

with them Councils will have to go where they are.

online using social media and in order to engage with them Councils will have to go

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online using social media and in order to engage with them Councils will have to go

References

1"

Ofcom (2009), “UK Adults Media Literacy interim Report”

2"

Office for National Statistics (2009), “Internet access: Households and Individuals”

3"

Ofcom (2009), “Citizens' Digital Participation Research Report”

4"

IIPS (2009),”Henley Planning for Consumer Change Survey” – (2222), Henley Centre

5"

Creative Brand Marketing: UK Social Networking Statistics

6"

Building Communities Online www.buildingcommunitiesonline.org

7"

Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Social Media Guidance

8"

Civil Service Code: Principles for Participation Online

Credits

Cover picture: stevecadman , http://www.flickr.com/photos/stevecadman/

Credits ‣ Cover picture: stevecadman , http://www.flickr.com/photos/stevecadman/ izwe insights 2010 13

izwe insights 2010

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Credits ‣ Cover picture: stevecadman , http://www.flickr.com/photos/stevecadman/ izwe insights 2010 13

PROGRAMMES

Connecting London

In 2010 izwe is going to be working with six London boroughs to improve how they relate to their people (especially the hard-to-reach), whilst building the

foundations for significant efficiency savings across the boroughs. At the heart of the programme will be a community social networking platform which will support real-time social research of community perceptions and opinion.!

The Connecting London Programme has been designed to help local authorities and partnerships engage the hard-to-reach, create efficiency savings through better coordination of online and traditional communication and participation tools, and meet and

exceed requirements related to the Duty to Involve, Duty to Promote Democracy and National Indicator 4. Connected London is funded by! Capital Ambition, London Civic Forum and the Department for Communities through the National Empowerment

Health 2010

In 2010 izwe will be working with four Primary Care Trusts, supporting them in meeting and exceeding World Class Commissioning (WCC) Competencies 3, 5, and 8, as well as their statutory Duty to Involve.

We will do this by delivering a radical improvement in their engagement performance, and at the same time create efficiency savings for partners through refining and integrating existing engagement, research and communication activity.!

We are currently seeking applications from potential partners. Each partner will receive:

a bespoke social networking website

significant efficiency savings - through effectively targeting finite resources

informed commissioning decisions in line with local needs and priorities

innovation in designing and delivering responsive services

a new live data creation and management system

360 degree engagement

significant increases in the number of people actively engaged online. In developing this programme we have worked with a number of key stakeholders including the! NHS

Government Interoperability

As society becomes more mobile and resources more constrained, the need for shared platforms and common models of online engagement becomes increasingly acute.

Our intent is to create a future where citizens and governments alike can work together on common platforms, whether they are in Britain, Bahrain or Bangkok. Through pooling our collective ICT resources we will also be able to pool our social

capital, and then anything is possible.! Izwe is working to develop standards and structures that enable governments nationally and internationally to share software and services. We are working to support significant service quality

gains and efficiency savings through enabling different public bodies to share common web platforms and the associated online tools.!

Leadership 2009

In 2009 we invited applicants from public bodies across the UK to work with us to take a step change in how they engaged online and face-to-face. From

the many applications we received, four public bodies were selected. Each member of the programme is going through the following four steps:

Step 1 - Research:! we will complete an audit

process of engagement architecture & performance

Step 2 - Agree Engagement Strategy: ! based on step 1 - engagement strategy agreed

Step 3 - Social Network Development:! the social networking site for opinion launched

Step 4 - Community Participation: ! targeted at engaging the hard-to-reach. Their initial sites will be launched in Spring 2010.

The programme is endorsed by the National Endowment for Science Technology and the Arts (NESTA), and the results will inform the Empowerment Delivery work of the Department of

Communities & Local Government (CLG).

the Empowerment Delivery work of the Department of Communities & Local Government ( CLG ). izwe

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the Empowerment Delivery work of the Department of Communities & Local Government ( CLG ). izwe
Insights Spring 2010 For any suggestions or comments on this report, please email: stephen.frost@izwe.com izwe

Insights

Spring 2010

For any suggestions or comments on this report, please email:

Spring 2010 For any suggestions or comments on this report, please email: stephen.frost@izwe.com izwe research 2010

izwe research 2010

Spring 2010 For any suggestions or comments on this report, please email: stephen.frost@izwe.com izwe research 2010