Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Reflection on Mia's Facebook presentation from Day 1 of Social Media in Government

I'm only here for a few presentations today at Informa's Social Media in Government conference, so are blogging rather than liveblogging the presentations.

First up this morning is Mia Garlick, now at Facebook and previously with experience in Commonwealth Government and with Google.

She's talking about using Facebook in government.

Mia has started by talking about how Facebook is a social graph for for connections between people & between people & organisations.

She says that researchers recently tested the six-degrees of separation

Mia says there are 800 million users globally of Facebook - counting users as those who check into Facebook at least once per month. Over 10 million Australians are in that group and over 50% of these users (globally and in Australia) access Facebook daily.

Mia says that Facebook has several valuable uses for government including for identity, engagement and advertising.

Identity refers to representing agencies online. Mia says the best approach is to create a page. She says that the page mechanism includes an option for government organisations via the Corporate and Organisation option.

Mia says it is important to understand the difference between a profile and a page - profiles are for persons, pages are for organisations. Profiles are multidimensional, when people friend each others' profiles they see each other's information.

Pages are unidimensional, when people fan a page the page owners don't get to see the fan's details.

Mia says it is important to curate pages. She says that Page administrators cannot turn off comments as Facebook is about engaging in social behaviours, not avoiding them. However people can create blacklists of words and profanity filters to manage comments and develop a policy and terms of use for the page. Mia says that administrators can also mark comments as spam or abusive.

She also says it is important to get senior executives across what is acceptable commenting. She says she has had senior government officials contact her asking for pages to be taken down as someone commented that "the government was stupid". She essentially said - let it go, people say this kind of stuff from time to time, does it really hurt you or reflect on them?

Due to the nature of Facebook, people don't often see your page - they see snippets of content in their newsfeed. Mia says it is important to ensure these snippets are interesting and engaging to make a Facebook page effective.

Mia says that the number three thing talked about in Australia on Facebook for 2011 was "Census" and number six was Victorian floods" (in their "memeology" list) - showing that government cannot ignore the channel as people are using it to discuss topics and issues that government is deeply invovled with.

She's now talking about South Australia's Strategic Plan and how they used Facebook to support engagement and feedback.

She says that while in government we are used to writing a large report and releasing it in a consultation with a list of questions, many people don't engage well or respond in this approach as it is overwhelming and they have limited time. The South Australian government broke the Strategic Plan into bitesize chunks they wanted feedback on and released them individually for people to respond to. Mia says this was very effective for South Australia, with over 1,300 comments received for one particular chunk and over 500,000 citizens reached via Facebook, with 10,000 participating.

Mia says that the South Australian government recognised that they engaged a new group through Facebook that they could not reach through traditional engagement mechanisms.

She's also given an example of Facebook advertising in Canada and how it can target specific demographics or geographic locations quite effectively.

Finally, Mia is highlighting the Facebook 'Coming together' page on peace which provides a view of how people are connecting and engaging across wars.

Mia also says that around 80% of Facebook users are using privacy setting in Facebook, which helps to create a separate between work and personal identities.

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