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Talking about the Social Media Audits

By June 27, 2011 No Comments

People are talking but are they talking to you?

As I’ve mentioned before, we’ve spent quite a lot of time recently working on the Social Media Audits – and now is the moment to start to talk in a bit more detail about what they are, what they do and how they work.

That makes quite a lot of sense right now, not least because tomorrow Public-i will be at the LGA Conference in Birmingham – and we’re expecting that, with its localism theme, there should be quite a few conversations about how local authorities can do more to understand their communities, and their online communities in particular.

In preparation, we’ve published a small brochure – entitled ‘People are talking, but are they talking to you?’ – which I’m going to precis on this post. It helps to encapsulate the service we’re now offering via the audits and, as you may have guessed from the title, explains how they can help our clients join the conversation that’s already going on. A conversation that’s often about them, but does not include them.

But they’re a bit more than that:-

Firstly, at Public-i we’re convinced by – even wedded to – the idea that the web offers our customers the best chance of having a genuinely co-productive relationship with their citizens. It’s something that’s been a theme of a lot of the blogging that Catherine has been doing (see here). We believe that in order to get there local authorities need to start talking to the people who really want to lead change in their areas – and, increasingly, those people are to be found online. But you can’t initiate a conversation without first understanding what people are saying and who they are – and that’s precisely what the audits are all about delivering.

We’ve broken that down as:-

  • Finding and introducing you to your online communities
  • Giving you the language and understanding you need to take part in these conversations
  • Enabling better communication online and more co-productive relationships
  • Reaching beyond the ‘usual suspects’ of civic engagement and meeting the people who already participate online.

So, without further ado, here’s a run-down of what we do in a Social Media Audit…

Diagram of a social media audit

Diagram from the brochure: People are talking but are they talking to you?

1). Finding out about you

Inevitably different authorities have discrete interests, populations, geography and – obviously – different needs. So the first part of the audit is about getting enough information from our clients to deliver the right project. We carry out an in-depth interview following on from our initial conversations with the client.

2). Understanding your world

Since we have to sift and search through social media, we have to learn about the area – the terms people use to describe it – and how that relates to the client’s specific needs. Armed with this we can create a bespoke search process that picks up the content that’s pertinent to the brief and begin the process of discovery.

3). Analysing the results

We then interrogate the raw search results, qualifying and analysing the data to identify the communities, groups and individuals that are of significance. That starts with a qualification process, where we look to apply what we know about how people organise online and create civic content – which Catherine has explained in greater detail here. We also analyse the relationships between these individuals, using Social Network Analysis.

4). Producing the report and recommendations

The final part of the process involves shaping and publishing the report. We see this as the absolutely crucial part of the process, because we know that while anyone can discover some of what is happening online, it’s quite a different matter know how to respond to it. The report goes is designed to present our findings, but also give clients a real understanding of how their communications and engagement strategies will have to develop to take note of their online communities.

Getting more information..

There’s a lot more to explain about the audits, including the costs and the different kinds of projects that we offer – and the booklet (below) gives a bit more information on how we can package specific audits for different projects. Over the next few weeks I’ll be trying to produce a few case studies to help people understand what kinds of delivery can be expected from the audits – but, obviously, we’re keen to talk about what we’re doing in more detail. If you’re interested please get in touch.

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