Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Outcomes from ACT Virtual Community Cabinet

I've run the conversation from the ACT Virtual Community Cabinet, held yesterday, through some statistical systems to look at how the event went.

Based on the CoverItLive session I recorded, there were 92 participants using the #ACTvcc hashtag between the beginning and the end of the Virtual Community Cabinet. I excluded conversations outside the period of the Cabinet as not being 'on the official record'.

During the Virtual Community Cabinet there were a total of 299 tweets, an average of 3 tweets per participant and approximately 5 tweets per minute.

The top 13 tweeters accounted for 50% of tweets, and the top 63 for 90% of tweets during the event.

I divided the tweets into the categories below based on the type of content. This is not precise, but gives an approximation of the types of conversations that occurred.
  • Question to Cabinet (Such as 'Can the ACT government please fix my road?')
  • Directional tweet (Such as 'The event starts now' or retweets without extra content)
  • Spurious comment (Such as 'Can we have more penguins?')
  • Action request/statement (Such as 'We need more buses')
  • Thank you (Such as 'You're doing a great job!')
  • Statement (Such as 'Look at what NSW is doing on Health')
  • Ministerial answer (Minister answering question 'We are expanding services')
Of the 299 tweets throughout the event, 97 (32%) were questions and 53 (18%) were Ministerial answers. In other words, the Cabinet Ministers responded to roughly 55% of the questions asked and answered at a rate of almost one response per minute over the 65 minute long event.

Another 51 tweets (17%) were directional - many alerting people to the start, middle and end of the event, or retweeting Ministerial answers.

Another 28 tweets (9%) were action requests which directly asked or told the government to take a specific step or decision. 33 (11%) of tweets were statements, providing information or a view without any direct question or action request.

There were 18 tweets (6%) expressing thanks for the event or actions of the government.

Finally there were only 19 tweets (6%) that were spurious (sorry to the dolphins, the peacocks and James Scullin).

Was the event a success?
Was the Virtual Community Cabinet a success? I would say yes, for a first attempt.

Looking over the Twitter stream (as I was unable to access Twitter through most of the event), overall my view is that the event was quite chaotic, with no clear format set for questions or for responses.

It was often very difficult to identify who Ministers were responding to and there were some big questions left unanswered. However I reckon the Ministers did quite well to answer 53 questions in the time they had.

A number of people indicated they'd like to see broader social media engagement. While the Cabinet Ministers stated they were on Facebook, the members of the public participating were asking them to use blogs - to post regularly and allow comments.

I think this difference in viewpoints may reflect a difference in social media sophistication between some politicians and some members of the public.

I stand by my previous statement that there were better tools the ACT Cabinet could have employed for this form of community engagement.

However, overall I think the event went OK, most participants left reasonably happy and several asked for further events (though using a broader set of social media tools).

I hope that the ACT government continues developing its social media and Government 2.0 sophistication, tapping into the experiences of other states (such as Victoria and Queensland) and within the Australian government.

View the record

View the ACT Virtual Community Cabinet Google spreadsheet here or the embedded version below.

As it would be easy to modify specific tweets or statistics, I've left it read-only for now.

To understand the colour coding and highlights, view the Legend (link from the bottom bar of the embedded spreadsheet).

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