SOCIAL MEDIA IN GOVERNMENT: BEST PRACTICES FROM SUCCESSFUL AGENCIES

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1 SOCIAL MEDIA IN GOVERNMENT: BEST PRACTICES FROM SUCCESSFUL AGENCIES TABLE OF CONTENTS Introduction: Who s online?...1 Social Media in Government: What are your objectives?...1 Improving efficiency and reducing costs...1 Improving trust in government..2 Improving service to constituents...2 Engaging citizens in collaborative government...2 Crisis response...2 Best Practices for Government Agencies...3 Conclusion...5 About Genesys Social Engagement...5 Introduction: Who s online? With the increasing adoption of social media, and pervasive mobile and broadband access by constituents, government agencies cannot afford to ignore the social media channels that citizens depend on. But the role of social media in government agencies is a work in progress. Few agencies are taking full advantage of the new opportunities that social media offers. While some agencies have undertaken limited or isolated social media efforts, they often struggle to integrate it into regular operations. Some of the challenges they face are a lack of manpower or resources to implement programs, the frustration of having to handle social media interactions manually, and difficulty in making appropriate use of the information they find. In addition, some see social media as just a one-way broadcast channel, and ignore the potential for citizen engagement and mutual collaboration. However, a growing number of agencies are enjoying success with social media by clearly identifying objectives, building processes and integrating social media capabilities. Organizations that are strapped for time and resources find that social media channels can actually stretch their resources helping them to communicate effectively with a wide range of constituents. What s more, agencies responsible for public safety find that the real-time nature of social media can be invaluable in times of crisis. The bottom line is that agencies that listen carefully and interact in the social sphere can build trust, broaden constituent participation and better align services to citizen needs. This paper looks at some best practices that successful agencies employ, and identifies guidelines that are broadly applicable across government agencies. Social Media in Government: What are your objectives? While the uses of social media in government are varied, the basic objectives and benefits of successful projects typically fall into the following general categories. Improving efficiency and reducing costs Social media offers a powerful and cost-effective channel for agencies to interact with their constituents. As such, it is quite valuable for resource-constrained agencies that must provide consistent services with fixed or shrinking budgets.

2 Social Media in Government: Best Practices from Successful Agencies / page 2 of 5 A recent study by the Congressional Management Foundation (CMF) shows that most members of Congress are using new media tools to reach out and communicate with constituents, and to broaden citizen feedback. For example, in the midst of a major spike in unemployment claims as a result of the economic downturn of 2008 and beyond, the California Employment Development Department (EDD) was struggling to handle the increasing load of unemployment claims. The fact that new claimants were unfamiliar with the process made it even more difficult for everyone. The agency chose to use social media to more effectively leverage their existing resources to meet citizen needs, while also reducing the incoming call volumes, by: Regularly posting updates about unemployment extensions and other information to Twitter and Facebook. Creating a YouTube channel with videos explaining the process of filling out and submitting unemployment claims documents and promoting the videos on other forms of social media. These simple steps addressed many common questions and helped citizens avoid making time-consuming mistakes, while also deflecting a large number of incoming queries and calls, thus speeding the delivery of unemployment benefits to constituents not previously familiar with unemployment claims processes. Improving trust in government Social media can increase transparency in government and help humanize otherwise opaque institutions. Where appropriate, using an employee s name on blogs or Twitter accounts can add a human face to government agencies. Particularly in state and local agencies, this kind of personalized touch can build essential trust that supports future budgets and funding. Beyond one-way broadcast information, local agencies can also use social media such as Twitter and Facebook to respond in real time to citizen inquiries and complaints, earning constituent trust through better responsiveness. Improving service to constituents Agencies can use social media to improve services to constituents by proactively reaching out to individuals on social media to let them know about services or programs. By garnering feedback in the social sphere, agencies can take steps to better align services or programs to citizen needs. Citizens of San Francisco can take a picture of a pothole or safety issue using a mobile phone application and automatically submit it to the city through the Open311 initiative. Engaging citizens in collaborative government Social media brings new meaning to government by the people and for the people by making it easier for ordinary citizens to participate in meaningful ways with agencies that represent and serve them. Citizens who are not comfortable finding the right representative to speak to about their issue of concern, or in personally calling that representative, may be more comfortable with posting their comment or suggestion on a social network, for example. Crisis response Social media can be a powerful tool in times of crisis. By using social media such as Twitter and Facebook, agencies can both disseminate critical information to citizens in real time, and receive important new information from citizens on the ground. By listening and responding to public sentiment, agencies can also take the lead in addressing any misinformation that could put public safety or security at risk. Using social media for crisis communication is easiest if the agency s social media presence is already established, and when processes for clearing, posting and responding to social interactions are already instituted. For this reason, agencies with a strong responsibility for crisis response are well served by implementing social media strategies and processes proactively long before any crisis occurs an extra advantage of which is achieving some of the other benefits described above.

3 Social Media in Government: Best Practices from Successful Agencies / page 3 of 5 In Australia, the City Council of Brisbane and the Queensland Police Service used social media channels to help citizens cope with recent catastrophic floods. The agencies used their Twitter and Facebook accounts to update citizens about evacuation centers, health and safety guidelines, and volunteering. Through these real-time channels, the agencies helped guide citizens safely through a difficult and perilous situation. Best Practices for Government Agencies Perhaps by now you ve set up a Twitter account and a Facebook page. But how do you really start using social media to achieve your goals whether you want to achieve better efficiency, improve service delivery, increase citizen trust, ensure collaborative government or provide an adequate crisis response? You can learn common steps and best practices from the growing number of government agencies that are using social media effectively. The list below consolidates many of these practices. Start by listening Social media channels offer unparalleled insight into what your constituents are thinking. The essential first step for any agency is to take advantage of that insight in the social sphere. Listening involves more than simply having a few employees check Twitter and Google Alerts from time-to-time. You need to identify which issues are of interest to your constituents, and are relevant to your mission or services and you need to listen for those issues systematically and consistently. Establish a presence. Determine where your constituents are participating, and create a presence there. Provide constituents with a logical place to interact with your agency, and deliver valuable feedback. Listen in the social sphere at large. Citizens may be using Facebook, Twitter, blogs and community sites to talk about your agency, your services or the general issues of interest to them within your agency s domain. Monitor what matters. Look for insights about what constituents want and need, as well as how they feel about existing situations and services. Also look for misinformation that might mislead or confuse people. Look beyond mentions of sentiment. Listen for both the positive and negative emotions, and put interactions in context. Prioritize responses to citizens Once you ve listened to what s happening in the social sphere, plan strategically to take action. Determine which tweets, updates and posts need responses, and who should best respond. Analyze, categorize and prioritize interactions using business rules that support agency objectives. For example, you might determine which tweets and posts are actionable, or which are highly charged emotionally. In the crisis response scenario, updates related directly to public safety would have a higher priority than others. Direct interactions to the right people in your agency. Because the range of issues surfaced will be broad and deep, it s important to integrate social media interactions with existing staff in contact centers and public relations. Where possible, automate the process of routing interactions. Don t let unresolved issues remain unresolved. If no one is responding to a high priority issue, you need processes in place to escalate the issue again, according to your business rules in order to build trust with constituents that their concerns will be addressed.

4 Social Media in Government: Best Practices from Successful Agencies / page 4 of 5 Engage within social media While you may want to respond to individual citizens who post complaints or queries, your agency should also engage directly in the social media channels where your citizens are participating. Create the internal processes for disseminating information in social media. In the real-time social media environment, you cannot impose long review cycles. Empower multiple people to speak on your behalf, with streamlined review/approval processes to ensure accuracy and consistency. Respond in the same media. If a citizen tweets a question, respond within Twitter so that people know you are listening and responsive. (The response may direct the citizen to another interaction channel if you cannot resolve the issue in this public forum.) Responding in-media magnifies the effect of your effort. A single answer to a single constituent in a Facebook page, for example, can indirectly answer the same question for hundreds of individuals wondering about the same thing. Proactively offer citizens the appropriate social media options for engaging with you. Invite them to your Facebook page, or to follow your Twitter account, for example. Then make sure you fill these channels with useful and relevant information. Integrate communications across channels Using social media isn t about ripping and replacing the way you work today. Instead, you can optimize the investments, processes and workflows you already have, extending them to work in the social sphere as well as traditional channels. As you do so, however, take care to meet the following objectives: Maintain a single source of truth. Citizens should receive consistent information, whether they walk into an office, visit your Facebook page or follow your Twitter account. Therefore, you should not create or allow siloed social media information that is not integrated through the agency. Everyone should work from a single, integrated knowledgebase to ensure consistency and maintain trust. Use appropriate channels for privacy. While responding in-media is important, many agencies must also carefully safeguard the privacy of citizen information or protect public safety. For that reason, interactions that begin in the social sphere will often need to continue in a more private, one-to-one format such as , telephone or even in-person conversations. Agencies should have the ability to interact with citizens across channels without losing context or the thread of the conversation. Share social media insight across the agency Finally, social media can feed continuous process and service improvement for government agencies if you share the insight gained from social spheres across the agency. This does not mean that everyone must be tweeting or posting updates far from it. But you do need to find ways to ensure that social media is aligned with the agency s mission, and that constituent insights influence the mission in an ongoing way. Measure and report on your efforts. Share trends and insight throughout the agency. For example, by finding the issues that cause the most confusion or concern among citizens, agencies can develop better processes or services to address those issues. Or, as with the EDD example earlier, they can simply use social media to mitigate confusion and streamline operations. Be real time. Social media moves quickly, and you must, too. Ideally you want real-time insight into what s happening, delivered through dashboards or reports that are easily accessed across the organization.

5 Social Media in Government: Best Practices from Successful Agencies / page 5 of 5 Conclusion Social media offers a real opportunity for government agencies to not only improve efficiency, but also to improve their service to constituents, build trust and collaboration and better handle real-time requirements of crisis situations. To achieve these objectives, however, government agencies need to be smart about how they implement social media. Rather than building individual or isolated groups of employees to handle limited programs, think of how best to integrate these efforts with the processes, people and technologies you already have. Where possible, automate social media processes around business rules that you revisit regularly. The agencies that have demonstrated the greatest success are the ones that have carefully implemented best practices and built processes around social media, monitored and tracked their efforts, and shared their learning throughout the agency for continuous process improvement. About Genesys Social Engagement Genesys Social Engagement is helping government agencies worldwide monitor, respond to and engage with constituents across social media channels, while also automating and streamlining operations for optimal efficiency and cost savings. Genesys Social Media Engagement offers intelligent, rules-based routing and flexible reporting for optimal social media interactions, with the ability to easily share constituent feedback with the right people in the agency. Out-of-the-box integration with Twitter and Facebook automatically captures and analyzes feedback on these popular social media platforms, while an open monitoring interface offers effortless integration with other, targeted sites. The advantages of the Genesys Social Engagement solution are that it: Automates processes for listening to constituents and sharing insight across the agency. Eliminates manual, isolated or inconsistent efforts in responding to comments in the social sphere. Integrates social media interactions with existing citizen relationship management (CRM) solutions for effective use of existing resources and processes. Enables agencies that are strapped for time and resources to communicate effectively with a wide range of constituents Corporate Headquarters Genesys 2001 Junipero Serra Blvd. Daly City, CA USA Worldwide Inquiries: Tel: Fax: About Genesys Genesys, the world s #1 Customer Experience Platform, empowers companies to create exceptional omnichannel experiences, journeys and relationships. For over 25 years, we have put the customer at the center of all we do, and we passionately believe that great customer engagement drives great business outcomes. Genesys is trusted by over 4,700 customers in 120 countries, to orchestrate over 24 billion contact center interactions per year in the cloud and on premises. For more information visit: or call GENESYS. Genesys and the Genesys logo are registered trademarks of Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories, Inc. All other company names and logos may be trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective holders Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories, Inc. All rights reserved (August)

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