Archive for the ‘social media’ Category


I have stopped reading regular “social media” experts. What I like about the social CRM crowd is they don’t talk about “how to set up your Facebook” page. Instead they are focused on tying social back to the organization.

via World’s Most Incomplete List of Social CRM Experts | The Funnelholic.


I have been definitely feeling post-social of late (I think it shows as I’m posting less and less about it). I think it might be because I’m reading the wrong stuff. Thinking that the “social CRM” avenue might be my escape hatch.

From a gov/communicator perspective I like the idea of directing social media effort in a customer service direction. Allows for official participation in social channels without all the baggage of dealing with “hot issues.” Better, it’s a way to provide concrete help to the people we serve. I think it has potential to provide a bigger bang for the buck than using social as a channel to do what we’ve always done (e.g. tweeting links to news releases).

I haven’t seen much evidence of the GoC using social media in this vein. Have you?


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What does this sound like?

Encourage public service managers and employees to communicate openly with the public about policies, programs, services and initiatives they are familiar with and for which they have responsibility. Openness in government promotes accessibility and accountability. It enables informed public participation in the formulation of policy, ensures fairness in decision making, and enables the public to assess performance. An open and democratic government implies that all employees have a role in communicating with the public while respecting the constitution and laws of Canada. Public service managers and employees must respect privacy rights, matters before the courts, national security, Cabinet confidences and ministerial responsibility. They serve the public interest best by communicating openly and responsively about policies, programs, services and initiatives they help to administer, while treating sensitive information with the discretion it requires.

A strong rationale for government bureaucrats to widely adopt social media communications, perhaps?  (Complete with caveats about doing so responsibly). Surprise — it comes from the Communications Policy of the Government of Canada.

Interesting: it looks like this has been part of the communications policy from at least 2002. Well before most of us had any idea about blogging, web 2.0 or social media. Go ahead, take a look at the text of the archived 2002 policy statement, it says the same thing.

(The GoC Communications Policy is a bit of a laundry list of requirements — 31 in total — for various aspects of communications: advertising, publishing, web, crisis communications, media relations, corporate identity, and so on. It’s easy to get lost in the details of each of these requirements and forget the overarching principles, laid out in the policy statement at the front end of the document. I’ve often skipped past this section — usually b/c I’m looking for some specific detail buried deeper in the document. But the other day I re-read the policy statement again for the first time in a long while, and that’s when this jumped out at me.)

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Recent data from Twitter showing the plethora of devices and apps used to access the service

Twitter released data last week showing an explosion of mobile use of their service:

Total mobile users has jumped 62 percent since mid-April, and, remarkably, 16 percent of all new users to Twitter start on mobile now, as opposed to the five percent before we launched our first Twitter-branded mobile client. As we had hoped in April, these clients are bringing more people into Twitter, and, even better, they are attracting and retaining active users. Indeed, 46 percent of active users make mobile a regular part of their Twitter experience. [Official Twitter Blog: The Evolving Ecosystem]

That’s a lot of different numbers,  but basically it boils down to this: the Twitter experience is transforming into a mobile one.

How I tweet. Mobile clients highlighted.

This certainly rings true for me personally — For example, my TweetStats shows that since staring on Twitter, mobile has been a very common part of how I tweet — I’ve highlighted the mobile clients in the graph at right, which shows the breakdown in clients used for 4029 of my tweets since I started using Twitter. Combined, my mobile apps — UberTwitter, Dabr, the official Blackberry app and TwitterBerry — accounted for 1709 of my tweets. If I were able to look at amore recent slice of this data, I’m sure it would show that mobile clients account for the majority of my tweeting. (And that’s just my output, rather than looking at how I consume others’ tweets. I often start my day by grabbing my ‘Berry and checking my Twitter timeline and lists, so you get the idea how that goes.)

Importantly, I’m not just issuing and reading tweets via mobile. I’m following links. Lots of them. As we all know link sharing is one of the most common ways of using Twitter. And I can tell you that when I get to the other end of those links, I much prefer dealing with site that’s optimized for mobile than one that’s not. I’m sure I’m not the only one.

What’s the takeaway for us GoC web communications types? If you are running a Twitter account that posts links to your website into the Twitterverse (and soon that’ll be all of us), it looks like its time to start thinking about taking your website mobile if you haven’t already.

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Online Canadians Report a Large 35% Decline in the Amount of Email Received | Ipsos.

That’s an impressive headline. From the release:

Study author Mark Laver noted that ‘when you look at some of the new communications platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter and [MSN] Messenger, that have taken off in the last few years the decline in email usage is really not that surprising, what is surprising is the size of the decline that is happening.’

One of the reasons that email usage may have declined so dramatically are emerging communications platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and various Instant Messengers. In fact, Facebook users send an average of 16 messages inside of that platform each week. Those using MSN Messenger or Blackberry Messenger are sending even more messages on a weekly basis.

And the takeaway:

These findings also have significant implications for those businesses that rely on email marketing for some or all of their business. These companies should be evaluating to see if social media platforms are an effective method for distributing their message.

Sounds logical, right? Email is down,  and there’s lots of people using Facebook, Twitter and various IM networks, so marketers should be considering dropping email and shifting over to social networks.

And yet. Statistics Canada recently noted that email is still the most common activity undertaken by online Canadians — at 93%, e-mail was still the most common online activity from home in 2009. This was far ahead of even “general browsing for fun or leisure,” the second most common activity reported by 78%. & using instant messaging was only reported by 45% in 2009 — which in fact represents a decline, from 50% in 2007.

Turning back to the Ipsos findings, note that these are based on email received. The question that was asked: “In an average week, how many emails do you receive (including spam)?” I think that the inclusion of spam in the question is actually very significant. My experience with spam over the last few years has been that I get far less of it. From Gmail to my ISP to my workplace email, I see very little spam these days — a far cry from a few years back when I started every day by cleaning out my inbox of the overnight clutter of unsolicited weight loss/cheap meds/penis enlargement (or worse) crap.

So I’m left wondering whether the 35% decline in email rec’d since 2008 reported by Ipsos is due to better spam filters? I’ll bet improvements in this area have had a significant impact. My theory is that while overall emails received is down, the signal to noise ratio has improved greatly. Meaning that email marketing of the legitimate kind — where people has actually signed up to receive your messages — would actually benefit from this decline of inbox clutter.

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Canada Border Services Agency is tweeting border wait times. This tweet reports that there's no delay at the Douglas (Peace Arch) border point in Surrey BC.

Well willya lookit that. The Canada Border Services Agency has set up a Twitter account that automatically broadcasts border wait times on Twitter.

So if you are sitting in your car wondering how much longer you are going to have wait to get over the border, just hand your mobile over to your passenger and tell them to look up: http://twitter.com/cbsa_bwt

Tweets are hashtagged by the name of the border point, so searching Twitter for the appropriate hashtag for the crossing you are interested in will also turn up the info you need. Here’s an explanation of how it works from the CBSA website: http://bit.ly/dwzprs

What I like about this is that it’s a use of Twitter for service delivery rather than marketing or promotion. In my little corner of the universe, we’re conditioned to think in terms of “getting the message out” more so than providing concrete information for our citizens to use. This Twitter account fills a basic information need without any fuss.

H/t: found via tweet from Martha, who points out that the explanation of how it all works is very well done:

@mjmclean: A very strong example of a #GoC Twitter protocol page. Nice work CBSA. http://bit.ly/dwzprs #gc20 #w2p

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Friday thought about social media, the workplace and generating ideas.

The following appeared in the comments thread on a lighthearted post about things not to say if you are trying to get your org to go social. I’ve added highlights:

I used to have relatively strong disagreements at the foundation I worked at years ago when they were pushing video-conferencing to replace face-to-face meetings. I kept thinking that the most profound insights and creativity always happened “in between” the formal sessions–during coffee breaks, over lunch, casual encounters when moving between sessions, and particularly when the formal sessions completely broke down. I’ve got a colleague in international development that spends all his time at conferences in the hallways to converse with other folks “escaping” the formal structure.

For me, Enterprise 2.0. Gov 2.0–virtually any social media channel–recreates that “in-between” space, where interactions can spontaneously occur, where the pressures of “productivity” and deadlines are released enough to see and experience things in radically different light, and therefore always fresh opportunity. Can it be measured against a cost-benefit analysis? Probably not, but for the sake of argument, what if it were possible to measure ALL the communications that took place around a given community/organization/enterprise–formal and informal–and flag the points where the greatest creativity broke through? I think it almost invariably happens first “in-between” and then enters the “formal” discussion.

And that’s what social media opens up–a rebalancing of the “in-between” spaces with the formal structures.

Just thinkin…

Props to the author. This crystallizes the feeling that I have about the value of social media at work. The importance of social media in the workplace is that in enhances that informal, in-between space for idea generation.

It goes further than merely recreating the water-cooler experience.  Social media allows ideas generated informally to be efficiently captured for future use. Too often, those water-cooler chats vanish into thin air, and the spark of an idea that might have had legs dies out invisibly. By transferring those conversations online, they get preserved for others to build on.

And it gets better — Only a few folks can gather around a water cooler, but given the endlessly linked and continuously interconnecting nature of the web, you’re no longer restricted to a small circle of face-to-face connections for sending and receiving flashes of insight. You can take it much farther afield now, over a longer period of time also.

The always-on, instantly shareable nature of social media lets people capture those flashes of insight for immediate testing and validation or correction. At a scale that was previously unavailable.

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Check out this excellent infographic from Dave Fleet that models the web ecosystem as it exists in 2010. (If you’re not familiar with the “paid” and “earned” media concepts, read both of Dave’s web ecosystem posts — the original and the sequel.)

Schematic of the web ecosystem, by Dave Fleet

Source: davefleet.com

What I like about this, beyond its elegant big-picture simplicity, is that it shows how the the corporate website is still key to an organization’s web efforts. It’s the core from which digital engagement flows.

In the Government of Canada context, our core .gc.ca websites are the key places where we offer accurate & unbiased info on our programs or provide services to our citizens. For the Government of Canada overall web presence, .gc.ca is the foundational layer. Sure, social media interaction allows us to follow our stakeholders into the places where they spend their time online, but I don’t think we can successfully extend our reach without a core website to return to. (An advanced approach would be not only to extend into the social web, but also to allow citizens in return to co-develop our .gc.ca sites, but that’s a ways off isn’t it.)

I’ve mentioned the irrelevant corporate website in the past, but as this schema shows, it’s actually more important than ever to make sure the core stays relevant — as we pursue engagement via the social web, our strategies must incorporate the traditional website also. We must ensure our websites are citizen focused/client-centric/user centered/call it what you will…. we can’t ignore the core.

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