Friday, June 22, 2012

Is this a world first? Australia's Bureau of Statistics #rickrolls its Twitter followers

Australia has been at the forefront of social media use by government agencies for a few years now (though don't tell them I said so or they might get complacent).

However I think this is possibly a world first.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) yesterday released the first tranche of results from Australia's 2011 Census, to widespread interest - partially fuelled by their effective use of social media during the data collection process.

Today the ABS thanked Australians, via Twitter, for their support with the following message.

Thank you Australia for the great support for the Census. Please see here for a special gift from the 2011Census team

The thank you link went to a classic internet meme. The RickRoll.

As far as I know this is the first time any government agency, anywhere in the world has RickRolled it's citizens - although the Zombie Apocalypse has been featured several times, by the CDC and by Queensland Police.

I like governments with a sense of human - they feel more human, more connected and more relevant.

From the reaction on Twitter, others feel the same way.

In my view this is a brilliant step that cements the ABS's position as one of the most effective organisational users of Twitter.

They have successfully built and directed attention to the importance of statistics, supporting the census process, through their sensitive, factual and yet human use of the medium.


However I wonder if this show of humanity will be punished by those who wish to portray governments in a negative light, as monolithic, humourless, emotionless institutions.

If you make your money from criticising governments, you don't want them to seem too likeable or human.

Update
I've just been reminded on Twitter that the US government was actually the first to RickRoll its followers in July last year, as covered in this Washington Post article, Did the White House just rickroll its 2 million Twitter followers?

Still it leaves the ABS as an early adopter.

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