5 ways to embrace social media in public sector organisations

A recent report revealed that good communication has significantly supported one Police Force in catching criminals. Social media channels (Facebook and Twitter) used by Surrey Police were responsible for 41% of all intelligence tips resulting from appeals, with some witnesses coming forwards and naming a suspect assisting in their arrest.

Social media as a comms channel has been increasing across most Local and Central Government, Police, Fire and Health organisations, being used for a wider range of initiatives. Below are five ways in which public sector can further embrace social media as a communications channel to deliver on their wider objectives:

Public information

The signposting nature of social media makes it a great platform to post updates and information out to a large audience. During the recent NHS cyber attack revealed a significant weakness in the sector’s IT systems, with at least 48 hospitals unable to access patient records. Many GPs jumped on to social media to provide updates to their patients, managing expectations and making the customer journey a smoother process.

Customer service

In 2014 there was a call by the public sector to improve customer service across the industry. The UK Customer Satisfaction Index reported the public sector as one of the lowest performing sectors. The report highlighted the importance for a better focus on citizen needs, proactive employee engagement, simpler processes and skills in business intelligence. With 68% of customers preferring to use social media as they felt it gave them a better voice, social media needs to play a pivotal role in public sector organisation’s communications mix. Since 2014, the sector has taken steps to improve customer service with customers more satisfied now, than they were a year ago, however, there is still room for improvement.

Digital transformation

Cost and budget pressures were ranked as the top drivers for digital transformation across the public sector, according to a report by Deloitte. In addition, changing customer needs has supported the transformation, a recent survey revealed that 30% of respondents preferred to use social media to the telephone. This switch to digital channels provides organisations with the opportunity to manage up to 8x more customer service enquiries, making significant efficiency savings across the business.

Crisis communications

The instantaneous nature of social media can also be effective at disseminating urgent information. Cheshire Fire & Rescue use social media to alert their local community about major incidents such as road closures and traffic incidents.

When in the midst of a crisis it is critical to ensure that there is a plan in place that includes the chain of command for decision-making and the ability to pause all promotional communications in the time of crisis. Using a social media platform with crisis management features helps ensure that your organisation can stay in control in a crisis.

Citizen insights and feedback

An exciting way to utilise the power of social media is to use citizen insight to shape future service delivery. A tactic that is not widely adopted just yet but is definitely one to watch out for!