Friday, February 13, 2009

Vic government releases Facebook/Myspace widget for bushfire support

Capitalising on the huge Australian audience on Facebook (over 4 million people) and MySpace, the Victorian government has bolstered its online response to the Victorian bushfires by developing a widget that provides news and updates while encouraging donations.

The widget is available from the Premier's website and is also in Vic Premier's own Facebook profile. It is down the page in the left-hand column.

For those of you who use social media, you can install the Facebook application from and the MySpace application from

The widget was developed using SproutBuilder, a (currently free) tool for creating widgets.

Just in case you were wondering how long it takes or how hard it is to build these widgets, Dave Fletcher has posted in his Government and Technology Weblog, v. 2.0 that he built a widget as a practice for an eGovernment Product Management Council meeting. Using SproutBuilder for the first time, it took him about 15-20 minutes. These widgets can be embedded on any website or leading social media site, such as MySpace, Facebook, Bebo, Friendster, Blogger and Typepad.

The Vic government is also using YouTube, Twitter and blog-like comments pages via the Vic Premier's site to help engage and communicate with people in relation to the bushfires.

I hope that other governments across Australia will learn from these examples and do more themselves to better engage people via their most preferred channel for interacting with government.

After all, in these cost-conscious times, it's also the most cost-effective channel for getting direct messages to the public.


  1. Hi Craig,

    Re the widget - should point out that Department of Justice organised the widget and Bullseye donated their time to build it. Great to see everyone pitching in.


  2. Thanks Ian,

    Not just a public sector social media initiative, but also a cross-department collaborative effort!

  3. Good idea! Great way to use viral marketing in the biggest online communites to spread the word.

    Stuart Stirling