Got the opportunity to serve as a keynote speaker in front of an enthusiastic crowd of 700 public sector executives at a major digital transformation conference (eFörvaltningsdagarna & Publikom) at Stockholm International Fairs (Stockholmsmässan) in Sweden. I shared my perspectives on digital transformation with a specific focus on social media and digital communication strategies.
While I respect that many public sector executives are unlikely to jump all over the latest social media platforms and tactics, I was impressed by the curiosity shown both during my talk and in many subsequent discussions with attendees. Many of them also agreed with me that many of the same principles that apply to businesses also are relevant in the public sector such as the value of being faster than ever before with your communications such as in the following situations.
Social Media for Crisis Management
A few years back, I worked with Orange County Government and their social media activities. One thing I remember one of their executives mention is that they strived to build a following on social media so that they would have established alternative modes of communications with the public before the big earthquake hits. That is, if you wait until a crisis situation to occur before you engage on social media, you may not have anyone finding your messages.
I also showcased the impressive efforts by various fire departments and other first responders in Orange County during the Canyon Fire 2 brushfire. Anaheim Fire & Rescue, for example, demonstrated their ability to use Twitter for continuous sharing of real-time updates with the latest news on mandatory evacuations, emergency shelters, where to bring your horses and other animals, as well as the status of their efforts to contain the fire itself.
Newsjacking and Fake News
Another reason why public sector executives may benefit from getting their updates out on various social networks in an expedient manner is that if they are not doing that, they will be more exposed to the threat by various fake news campaigns. For example, during the Las Vegas massacre, it didn't take long before fake news began appearing claiming that the event never actually occurred but was merely a conspiracy to force tougher laws on gun control. Therefore, it could be more important than before for public sector officials to get quickly get an official version of an emerging story out there to at least provide some counterbalance to various sources of fake news.
Focus on Customer Experience
Outside of crisis situations, more and more public sector executives are beginning to consider their citizenship as customers and are following the lead of the business world in trying to provide as much of a seamless customer experience as possible in dealing with various government institutions. I shared how I expect that my upcoming book The Social Customer Journey would be important in this regard. For example, the public sector would serve their citizens better by providing more options than before in terms of how you communicate with a government office. Also, that the institution is able to better serve what is needed, when it is needed, and not too much redundant information that isn't needed for the transaction in question.
One of the best parts of speaking at events is chatting with people afterwards to learn about their challenges and this conference was no exception. Se below for some people I met even including a nice testimonial by a happy attendee Lars-Erik Andersson, IT Director of Knivsta & Heby Municipalities:
Photo credits: Thanks for some of the pics by Patrik Koc Strömberg, Christina Nordström, and by Rikard Hällberg (Företags TV).