By Julian Price, National Assembly for Wales Social Media Manager.
On Thursday 25 September, we invited a couple of speakers to come and talk to Assembly staff about social media and digital engagement. It was the first time we’ve had this kind of event here at the Assembly, and it focussed heavily on social media during the day.
Three speakers with very different approaches to social media were invited to speak at the event: Wynne Keenan who is External Marketing and Digital Communications Manager at the DVLA; Dr Tom Crick who is a senior lecturer in Computing Science at Cardiff Met University; and Emma Meese, Media and Training Development Manager at Cardiff University’s Centre for Community Journalism.
The afternoon session was originally put together as an event for internal staff, as an opportunity to learn more about the application of social media and to share best practice. Several external organisations became aware of the event and asked if they could attend. In the end, we welcomed colleagues from Cyfle, CIPR Cymru, Dyfed-Powys Police, NHS Wales, Wales Audit Office and the Welsh Government to join in our discussions.
Wynne provided a great insight to the digital revolution that is taking place at the DVLA. Some key metrics included that DVLA has nearly 5,000 employees, manages 175 million transactions a year, and answers 25 million calls annually. In comparison with the private sector, its revenue now exceeds Tesco Online and is not far behind Amazon (£3.2bn and £3.3bn respectively).
DVLA have done a lot of work internally to digitally engage. This has been achieved through the use of blogs, webchats, and with social networking site Yammer. Externally, blogs, Twitter and Youtube are a key driver for pushing out content and educating about the taxation laws in the UK.
The DVLA has removed the restriction on staff using social media at the organisation in an effort to increase advocacy.
Wynne explained that his department will work with various business areas in the organisation to show how social media can help them, and to demonstrate a clear business benefit. He suggested finding a sponsor, and grabbing every opportunity to talk about your work.
Dr Tom Crick spoke about the digital landscape and how people are now connecting. He suggested you should not tweet/post anything that you wouldn’t shout out loud in a room. He believed social media should be local, natural, and a priority. He explained how social media has destroyed barriers that previously stopped people communicating with organisations, and he encouraged more people in the room to blog about their experiences and passion.
However, he qualified this use of blogging and social media with the question: what is your motivation for doing it?
He moved on to discuss everyone having a digital agenda and about how to engage with citizens. He noted how there was a generational shift in expectations of digital communication, and organisations need to adapt to this.
Emma Meese was the last speaker of the day. She currently works for Cardiff University but has previously worked with BBC Wales and BBC Radio Wales. Emma was able to illustrate everyday application of social media and shared some success stories.
Emma explained that social media is your shop window to the world, therefore you need to know your message and more importantly know your audience. She pointed out that your Twitter bio is searchable and so it is important to structure this correctly, using every word to full advantage. Inserting a link to your website or blog is good practice, and if you’re bilingual, adding in a word in your other tongue, to show that you can communicate in different languages.
Emma used an analogy of standing in a queue with strangers to encourage engagement. In simple terms, would you talk just about yourself to someone if you were queuing next to them? Probably not, as the other person would switch off. You’d engage in a conversation, asking as well as telling.
Like Dr Crick, Emma highlighted that everyone or every organisation should have a goal on social media.
Goal > Target > Success
Think about using someone else’s voice i.e. retweeting of others. This follows on from the previous presentations of encouraging advocacy.
As a practical tip, Emma also suggested scaling back the number of Facebook pages an organisation may have, making your refined online presence busier with content.
It was a great event and we are deeply grateful to our guest speakers who covered a wide range of content within the digital landscape.
It was pleasing to see many external organisations attend the seminar and talk so positively about the event on Twitter. We hope this will be the first of many social media events at the National Assembly for Wales – details of the next one will be posted soon.