Feds bank on social media to expand outreach

New government report shows a spike in demand for social media channels to connect with citizens and the industry.

Social media gains popularity for government users

Social media gains popularity for government users

Social media is taking centre stage as a communication tool across departments and agencies, says a new report tracking trends in the public sector.

These trends are highlighted in a “State of the Service” report just released by the Australian Public Service Commission. This report says that official blogs and digital engagement is going main-stream. The uptake of social media will continue into the New Year under moves to engage more readily with constituents and the industry.

More than 70 per cent of agencies confirm an increased use of community engagement channels. Social feeds, collaboration and blogs are becoming a mainstay.

The federal government hires nearly 163,000 staff nationally and overseas. A high proportion now uses some form or social media – either personal or for work. An Australian Public Service (APS) Twitter leader-board says there are nearly 169 public sector Twitter accounts.

Leveraging social media posts

The number of followers for the largest account has peaked at 149,655. The tally of likes per account ranges from 257 to 5,964,728. Of these, Australia.com, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and Australian Army are attracting the highest number of likes.

Among the front-runners, Tweets from @Australia, @TourismAus and @dfat account for the most high-volume traffic. Moreover, a Facebook APS leader-board has tabulated 125 public sector Facebook accounts.

Fast-tracking services

Among the trends, agencies are using social media to fast-track customer services, target and reach specific audiences, build internal and cross-agency collaboration or boost workplace productivity. Social channels also disseminate organisation-wide information more quickly and offer real-time feedback on planned policies, initiatives or new programs.

High-volume traffic encompasses agencies like the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Australian Electoral Commission, Austrade and the Australian Public Service Commission.

One long-established site is run by the peak agency, the Department of Finance. The Australia.gov.au website offers links to information and services across 900 related websites. This site will get a face-lift to improve the search and browsing capabilities. Enhancements are planned to offer better access to larger volumes of social media channels and mobile resources.

A collaboration tool called “GovDex” is also hosted by the Department of Finance. This tool offers secure online collaboration for agencies, including a wiki, project tracker and dedicated discussion forum.

The "GovDex" platform brings together communities across agencies, locations and time zones. Staff can share information and ideas, schedule projects and assignments, or review, edit and collaborate on documents.

Building community engagement

Among the community engagement projects, the National Library of Australia hosts a dedicated site with a vast collection of Australiana. These collections record lifestyle patterns, social customs, popular culture, national events and topics of national significance.

The library hosts a collection of federal election campaign content. This includes one copy of all published leaflets, handbills, posters, policy speeches, press statements, pamphlets, letters and reports to constituents. How-to-vote cards and other paraphernalia surrounding an election is also stored.

On the staff engagement front, the Department of Human Services encourages collaboration through different social media and networking tools. These include an online news service where staff can comment on or rate articles. Feedback is shared using a “SpeechBubble,” discussion forums, a departmental Wiki, Yammer and instant messaging.

Full details are available at Using Social Media

Follow Shahida Sweeney on Twitter: @ShahidaSweeney

Tags Department of FinanceGovDexYammerNational Library of AustraliaWikiAustralian Governmentmobile communicationsyoutubeDepartment of Human ServicesFacebookaustralia.gov.auGoogleblogstwittersocial media

More about Australian Bureau of StatisticsAustralian Electoral CommissionAustralian Public Service CommissionDepartment of Human ServicesFacebookNational Library of AustraliaPublic Service Commission

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