The Government does social and learns from it!

I was invited to present at the Government Marketing Communications conference in Canberra on May 27th and 28th. I am not going to share my presentation but two success stories presented by Jessica Ewens Senior campaign manager at the Department of Families, Housing, Community and Ingenious Affairs and Daniel Sheehy, Web content Manager at the NSW Police Force.

The Line- How social media can be the pillar of a behaviour change campaign
The Line campaign is part of the time for action report, a broad initiative aiming at informing and changing young people’s behaviour towards relationships. Jessica explained that prior to deploying the campaign the Department lead thorough research about teenagers. They found that it is between the ages of 12 to 20 that teens shape the way they interact with each others; and that a high part of their conversations happen on digital and social networking spaces. It became obvious for the Department to promote their messages on Facebook, Youtube and a blog enabled website. They also understood that for it to work, the campaign had to be conversational and that the government couldn’t afford to appear authoritative. This digital approach was also supported print, press, PR, music partnerships and artist endorsements.

Social Academy @ the NSW Police Force
In just over a year the NSW Police Force Facebook page grew from nonexistent to 42K active fans. It didn’t happen by chance. Daniel demonstrated the value of social media to his his peers and officers by using the below tricks:

          Show that people are already talking about your organisation outside or your touch points

          Explain how social could make their job easier/ more effective (eg: detectives)

          Invite other organisations to come in and share their success

From there, it was the beginning of his social media boot camp! He was allowed to take the @nswpolice Twitter account over from the smart arse advertising agency that had set it up in 2009 with the hope of “selling” it back to the Police at appropriate time. The NSW Police Force now has 12K followers on Twitter, 870K views on their Youtube channel (with a spike at 100K views on a single video relating an egging incident on the person of Justin Bieber), and 42K “Likes” and their Facebook page.
The NSW Police Force don’t do social networking because it’s trendy; they do it because it brings real benefits to the communities.

          Encourage people to report crime

          Educate people about crime prevention & safety

          Create community confidence, reassurance and goodwill for NSW Police Force

          Provide public with important information at specific time (events, crisis…)

          Rewards & fun: It is not all about crime and busting the bad guys. NSW Police Force recently ran the Police Puppy Naming Poll


Jessica and Daniel reported two very different experiences but the learnings that their organisations drew from their involvement in Social Marketing were very similar.
They both said that when they turned social media channels on, officials were ready to face criticism but that most of the time the community regulates itself and wants the dialogue to remain free and open (because they maintained an active and healthy community)! They also said that the conversation is already happening elsewhere on the web and that felt a responsibility for the authority the drive the dialogue to constructive outcome. They also said they absolutely love participating in such a fast evolving medium and that they still have a lot to learn and experiment!

Marie Sornin

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