Monday, April 20, 2009

How much time should it take government agencies to participate in online social media?

While the timeframes for developing and distributing publications, media releases, and even website news items is extremely well understood by government departments, often there is a much lower understanding of the level of effort (in time) required to engage communities online via different channels.

Fortunately there are now several guides available to provide insight into the timeframes required and therefore the resourcing a government department may have to allocate to do justice to online participation.

The chart below is from the Museum 2.0 blog post, How Much Time Does Web 2.0 Take?

It demonstrates how much effort out a a week different types of engagement legitimately take - from a Twitter stream (under an hour per week) up to a running a community (over 10 hours per week). Of course if you are doing multiple activities along the line there are some efficiencies - by automatically posting new blog notices to Twitter and a community and by reflecting themes and materials across channels.

Another chart is from Beth's Blog: How Nonprofits can use Social Media, in the post How Much Time Does It Take To Do Social Media?. This discusses online participation by level - from listening (5 hrs/week) through participating (8 hrs/week) up to community building and social networking (20 hrs/week).

My own experience is that I spend around 4-5 hours per week maintaining a (mostly) daily blog - of course as it's my personal blog I do not have to go through multiple approval levels and the level of comments is reasonably low which reduces the amount of screening time (though I'd appreciate more comments).

If your agency is participating online, what has been your experience of managing these channels?

And do you feel that your time is well spent?


  1. Hi Craig

    This is an interesting subject that we get asked about a lot at Bang the Table. From our perspective the answer depends upon the extent to which agencies want to actively facilitate the discussion.

    Because our site is moderated by us the Agencies who use us only really need to keep an eye out for comments and questions that they need to reply to. Many have a policy of not entering the discussion at all but some are more active.

    Typically I advise clients that use of Bang the Table should, in resource terms, cost them about an hour a day or 5 hours a week as well as a few hours at the start of the process to set up the page.

    I'd argue that we are at the community building end of your scale in the image you have used so perhaps one lesson is that you can reduce input times with use of an externally moderated site?

    Thanks again for the post.

    Matt Crozier

  2. Thanks for the comment Matt.

    I reckon the model of outsourcing moderation is a good one in resource-strapped and underskilled government agencies.

    So long as they are listening and acting on the comments provided.