Civil Servants to come out of the digital shadows

28 Jul

Civil servants come out from the shadows

The Government has published its Template Twitter Strategy for Government Departments (even more impressively, it is available for download on a Scribd page), suggesting to civil servants to begin tweeting and explaining how to do it, with the ultimate aim of improving public engagment.

The document is a really interesting, well put-together twitter template. It sets out pros and cons, twitter stats, a glossary and a reasonably significant list of influential twitter uses including journos, departments, MPs. It also has devised twitter objectives and metrics, which I’m sure will spur plenty of debate amongst bloggers and tweeters.

Written by Neil Williams (a.k.a @neillyneil), a self admitted “Web strategy geek at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills,” the document advises civil servants, particularly those from the digital comms teams, to tweet on departmental campaigns, news releases, ministerial announcements, highlighting content on other social media platforms such as YouTube and even asking and answering questions.

Amazingly, this all means that civil servants will be crawling out of the shadows of Whitehall and will have a face, albeit a digital one. By encouraging interaction, there will be a transparency and two-way communication that, possibly, has never existed in Whitehall before.

Tom Watson MP, the first blogging Parliamentarian and avid social media nut, was also on the Today programme on Radio 4, spruiking the benefits of social media and, in particular Twitter, as a method of communication and interaction.

Tom Watson also made the point that many old mandarins still get their secretaries to print out the mandarin’s emails for review.

MPs are similar; we are currently surveying Parliamentarians and politicos about the use of twitter in Westminster. There are indeed MPs like Tom Watson, who was among a number of MPs on the Independent’s list of influential parliamentarian twitter, who are actively involved on the blogosphere and many of those listed have actively participated in our survey. But the truth is many still don’t get it and don’t see the point.

But surely, strategies like this show that social media has been adopted by the main stream and the idea that social media is just for kids, computer geeks and a small sector of society is no longer true. The powers that be have recognised the revolution will be digitalised and they have no choice but to get on board.

If you are interested in this issue and you would like to take our survey on the use of twitter in Westminster and Whitehall, we would more than appreciate your comments. http://bit.ly/10sf8B

Cross-posted with the Ruder Finn Dot Comms blog

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