Presentation on theme: "Impact of Social Media on how Whitehall works"— Presentation transcript:
1 Impact of Social Media on how Whitehall works @Puffles2010
2 What these slides cover Social Networks – what they are and an example of how they can workWho holds the knowledge?How social media dissects traditional “media management” approachesCommunications case studiesPolicy case studyUser analysisHow can Whitehall respond?The need for more evidence
4 How I (as a new user) formed my networks After setting up an account on a given platform – e.g. Facebook or Twitter, I then used the search tools to find people with similar interests to me. For example:CareerSportScienceAcademiaMusicCampaignsFor each interest, I was able to build up a small “virtual” network that looks something like the diagram belowEveryone within this network of interest is connected to each other
5 How I (as a new user) formed my networks This gave a picture that looked something like this:Represented by the large yellow circle, I have links into a number of different virtual networks as represented by the small yellow circles:
6 How I (as a new user) formed my networks As people have multiple interests, some of those interests are shared:Accordingly, they may already have links to the same communities of interests that I have – represented by the green lines
7 How I (as a new user) formed my networks Through the use of social networks, other people start linking up too - denoted by the blue lines,There now is a very complex virtual web of people linked by mutual interests. The stronger each of those individual links is, the stronger the web is.
8 How these networks can be used by people Having a virtual web such as this can serve three key purposes:For “support”For the search for greater knowledgeTo challenge those in authority.
10 Who holds the knowledge? - 1 In the old way of working – especially in the pre-internet age, people who had access to wide amounts of knowledge and information were few and far between outside of central government. (The issue is accessibility, not educational ability).Government departments and large organisations were the only ones who could afford to maintain large systems to enable easy access to that knowledge and information.Department of StatePolicy teamTrade UnionMedia organisationResearch instituteUniversityMinisterProfessional bodyMedia outletLarge campaign groupPre-internet societyThis gave us a world that looked something like the diagram above.
11 Who holds the knowledge? - 2 This system illustrates that unless individuals were part of large organisations, feeding into the policy-making processes was very difficult for the individual person. The rise of the internet and advanced communications tools meant that more existing knowledge could be published more easily (static), and the access to that knowledge led to further advances over a much shorter time period (dynamic) than without these toolsDepartment of StatePolicy teamTrade UnionMedia organisationResearch instituteUniversityMinisterProfessional bodyMedia outletLarge campaign groupSociety takes up new communications toolsThe internet substantially increased access to that knowledge that was previously only available to large organisations – especially as they made it more available.
12 Who holds the knowledge? - 3 The developments of social media has meant that each individual with access to the internet also had the opportunity to use social media for much more efficient discussions and deliberations than was possible through and old newsgroupsSociety takes up new communications toolsThis meant that each online individual had the potential to move from being a “passive” internet user to an “active” internet user – i.e. one who engages in discussion and debate through social media, rather than just a passive “reader”.Therefore, online user evolves from…into……an active networked user…and through those networks, knowledge moves from being the preserve of Government and large organisations…
13 Who holds the knowledge? - 4 Knowledge and information is now no longer the monopoly of Government and large organisations. Knowledge and information is “out there” – with people using commenting, adding, developing and innovating with it.Instead of “knowledge” being here…Department of State…it is now out thereThis creates significant challenges for Central Government (as well as large organisations)The next set of slides look at the impact of what happens if Government decides to behave in a manner reminiscent of the pre-internet & pre-social media era
15 Communications case study: the conference The current model is that a minister will receive briefing from a policy team before attending a conference. The minister will clear a speech prepared by a speechwriter with policy input. The minister may take questions and answers before moving onto another engagement elsewhere. Prior to the rapid growth of social media, the “model” of engagement was as set out below.Department of StatePolicy teamMinisterConference delegatesThe minister has the close support of the policy team and press office, with the wider department supporting if needs be. The audience is normally a fairly specialist/self-selecting one – especially where conferences are not advertised widely and/or are charging. Therefore the number of people who will attend – and their professional interests, will be limited.
16 Communications case study: the conference The challenge is that more and more delegates are turning up to conferences with web-enabled handheld devices, electronic notebooks and laptops.Department of StatePolicy teamMinisterConference delegates…and these delegates have already started using social media to provide live updates from conferences. Competition in conferencing has led to the growth of “guest wifi” access. Conferences organisers have also started setting up temporary websites to facilitate discussion, and organise Twitter hashtags for people outside of the conference to follow – and contribute.
17 Communications case study: the conference This means that the audience a minister is speaking “live” to is potentially far greater than the people in the room. This is especially the case where conferences are streamed live over the web.Suddenly the policy team and department numerically are proportionately much smaller compared to the audience.Department of StatePolicy teamMinisterConference delegates with web access who are part of informed networksVirtual networks following from outside the eventThis means that ANY claim/assertion made by a minister will be fact-checked, dissected and disembowelled in realtime.
18 Communications case study: the conference Mainstream media also feed into these networks. Where something is “newsworthy” it may be streamed onto websites and news channels with very limited input from press officersDepartment of StatePolicy teamMinisterConference delegates with web access who are part of informed networksVirtual networks following from outside the eventMainstream mediaDue to the 24/7 demand from mainstream news channels, unless departmental communications’ units are feeding into the debate, they can find themselves bypassed
19 Communications case study : The widely-trailed speech The Prime Minister in Early Feb 2011 was scheduled to make a speech in Munich, Germany at an international security conference. The theme of his speech was around the issues of multi-culturalism within the context of globalised security issues. The speech was released under an embargo to the mainstream media for release at midnight on the day of the conference.Embargoed press releaseMainstream media“Social Media Virtual World”In the hours between the lifting of the embargo and the delivery of the speech, the “social media virtual world” had the opportunity to dissect and comment on the speech
20 Communications case study : The widely-trailed speech Parts of the “Social media world saw things differently to what was in the press releases. Topics that trended in one part of the social media focused on:The Government’s definition/understanding of “multiculturalism” as a termThe choice of venue to make a speech that they saw was on “race” – the city where the National Socialist Party in Germany made its first attempt to seize power in the early 1920sThe choice of date given the above, which coincided with a controversial march by the English Defence League.10 Downing StQuestions to Government from…Mainstream mediaFeedback/trending topics“Social Media Virtual World”Rather than “setting the agenda”, Downing Street found itself having to respond to issues that were otherwise outside of the scope of the conference itself.
21 Communications case study - The TV/Radio Appearance Ministers regularly appear in the media. Important speeches in the House are also featured on major news bulletins. The difference between this type of event and a conference is the size of the potential audience is significantly greater. This is due to the wide existing following through television and radio and the publicity that they sometimes give to such appearances in advance of broadcast.Dept of statePolicy teamMinisterMedia Broadcaster/TV/Radio ShowIn the traditional model you have lots of people watching “passively”. While they more than likely will have an opinion, it is unlikely that they have cascaded it instantaneously to wide numbers of people. They may discuss it “offline” with others at a later point
22 Communications case study - The TV/Radio Appearance The growing use of, and the promotion of social media by people and broadcasters alike means that more viewers are able to use social media to discuss what’s going on while watching television at the same time. A typical example might be watching television while using a handheld web-enabled device. Another might be having a split-screen on a PC or a live radio feed while online.Dept of statePolicy teamMinisterMedia Broadcaster/TV/Radio ShowThis means that, depending on the type of show concerned, a greater or lesser proportion of the audience will have access to social media, some of whom will be using the tools available to discuss what’s being broadcast.
23 Communications case study - The TV/Radio Appearance This then gives us a scenario where social media users are able to discuss the content through their networks. As journalists now have social media accounts as a matter of course, trending content can move rapidly from the social to corporate mediaDept of stateCorp MediaPolicy teamCorp MediaMinisterMedia Broadcaster/TV/Radio ShowSocial Media usersThis is what can create a media firestorm if the issue concerned is particularly controversial and if the reaction of lots of numbers of people to a specific issue catches both central government and the corporate media off guard. The recent scrapping of the proposed sale of woodlands is one example of this.
24 What does all this mean for Ministers? The decentralised nature of these networks means that the “command and control” system of “managing the media” is now obsoleteAs Paul Mason of the BBC reported: “Propaganda is flammable”Informed people are increasingly likely to see through bland press releases and will comment accordinglyThere will be increasing pressure to provide facts and sound evidence to justify policiesThere will be further pressure on ministers to be well-briefed across a wider range of issues – in particular consistency with other departments’ policiesMinisters and departments will find it hard to operate in a manner that ignores social mediaGovernments & media corporations no longer hold the monopoly on knowledge or media management. Knowledge is not the exclusive preserve of policy teams. It’s “out there” in the wider networked world.The challenge is how to move from an “adversarial” model of engagement with people through the media to one where policy teams are embedded in such networks.
26 Policy case study – Welfare Reform Bill The Welfare Reform Bill suffered a series of defeats in the House of Lords in early January 2012 when peers voted in favour of amendments against the wishes of ministers. Social media was key to mobilising support for those opposing the Bill – a campaign that led to the specific amendments that ministers opposed. In particular, social media has enabled disabled people – more often than not marginalised, to make their voices heard. Social media allowed campaigners to communicate easily with each other and to share expertise. It was social media that enabled Sue Marsh and colleagues to write the “Responsible Reform” report (http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/responsiblereformDLA ) that contested a number of assertions made by ministers. They were also able to use social media (in particular Twitter under the hashtag #SpartacusReport) to publicise the report and its key messages).
27 Policy case study – Welfare Reform Bill Campaigners and activists were able to use social media to lobby Parliament – in particular members of the House of Lords who would be voting on the amendments.Social media was a key enabler here.It allowed thousands of people who might otherwise feel or be disenfranchised by the political system to become knowledgeable about an issue that will impact them or those close to them.It allowed people to ask members of the House of Lords to take a specific series of actions.It allowed people to substantiate what they were asking peers to do with both hard evidence as well as personal testimonies of how the Bill that the latter were going to be voting on was going to impact directly on them.It forced ministers to engage with campaigners on terms that they did not seem entirely comfortable with. They had to respond to a number of very specific and informed claims being made by campaigners – in very public forums such as Newsnight. Further reading on how the defeat was inflicted can be found at by Patrick Butler
29 User analysis - Segmentation Whitehall needs to acknowledge that the use of social media is in addition to other methods of community engagement and outreach, not a replacement for them. This is in part about “audience segmentation”Disconnected but engagedConnected and engagedDisconnected and disengagedConnected but disengagedThe risk of polarisation of society along lines of political engagement and use of social media, if manifested could have impacts on public service delivery due to the importance of feedback. If only the connected and engaged make policy, it runs the risk of not accounting for the needs and wishes of those who are ‘offline and disengaged’
30 Connectivity vs awareness of politics Continual connection on the move (iPhone/ laptop)Very busy professionals to high web users following particular people/ celebritiesPeople who follow new media sites but choose not to interactSocial media users in politics fieldPaid activistsRegular bloggers who engage with their audiencePeople who respond frequently in interactive sitesContinual access at home & workAffluent but disinterestedPeople who read about issues in mainstream websitesPeople who respond infrequently on established media sitesStudent activistsDaily but not continual access e.g. work/collegeInfrequent bloggers/ article writers“Entertainment media watchers”Infrequent accessPeople who read about issues “old” mediaPeople who write (not ) into newspapers regularlyLocal activists who are not online“Victor Meldrew”Switched offDisengagedUnawareAwareEngagedActiveAdvocates
31 User analysis - Segmentation Networked and engagedThese people are the “pioneers” of social media – whether making use of existing social media to engage in the political processes or whether exploring how social media can be improved to make it more user-friendly and available to more people.Departments and organisations should be able to harness the input of people within this cohort without needing to invest significant resources. This is due to the cheap and accessible nature of social media and this cohort’s familiarity with both the technology and the issues that they want to discuss.People within this cohort are also potentially “advocates” who can encourage others to use social media to engage with the political processes. This is because people are much more likely to trust a personal recommendation from someone who they are familiar with – for example through a mutual “virtual community of interest” than through a traditional advert.
32 User analysis - Segmentation Networked but disengagedThis cohort of people are familiar with the technology but may not be interested in, or aware how they can use it to influence policy on issues that they care about.These people may already use social media for such things as:Interaction with television/radio showsUsing social media to review/research a holidayUsing social media to source a recommended service or productThe message to these people could be:“You already use this technology for X, Y or Z; have you thought about using it for A, B or C?”All groups will have their sub-segments. Young people at college might fall into this category just as much as a small business owner. The approaches that are used won’t necessarily be the same.
33 User analysis - Segmentation Disconnected but engagedSocial media isn’t the only medium that people use to engage with the policy making process. There are a cohort of people who, for whatever reason may not have considered using social media as a means of engagement.These people may engage in the policy making process through:Phoning into television/radio showsBeing a member of a pressure groupWriting into newspapers or other publicationsWriting to departments or politicians directlyThe message to these people could be:“You are already aware of the issues; have you thought about joining the conversation at X, Y or Z?”
34 User analysis - Segmentation Disconnected and disengagedPossibly the most challenging group/cohort to approach, and one that goes beyond a simple “social media” approach alone.There will inevitably be sub-segments of this and other groups. For example some may be affluent and have no incentive or desire either to get connected and/or engaged. Others may take a cynical view of politics and policy making while viewing social media as being “for other people” or “too complicated”.All groups will have their sub-segments. Again, the approaches that are used won’t necessarily be the same.
36 How can Whitehall respond? - Policy The historical nature of policy making is that policies are inevitably agreed on the basis of imperfect knowledge. The more imperfect the evidence base, the more problems there may be in delivery and the more chance that something may go wrong.Social networks through social media allow people to make more informed challenges to policies. In such an environment, is an adversarial model of media management and policy making sustainable? I would argue that it is not.Department of StateMinisterPolicy team“The networked world”Therefore, policy teams may find themselves having to take the plunge and engaging with informed social networks through social media. The risks that are associated with this is that constructive criticism by officials of existing practices are picked up in the mainstream media and are spun accordingly. But what is the alternative?
37 How can Whitehall respond? - Structure One of the features of all Whitehall departments is the “silo” structure. Matrix management and project/programme boards have been introduced across a number of different departments to try and bring in a wider level of input across policy teams. While this allows input from a wider base and is suitable for accounting for “big” decisions, it’s less suitable for smaller steers.Permanent SecretaryDirectors GeneralDirectors GeneralDirectors GeneralDirectorsDirectorsDirectorsDeputy DirectorsDeputy DirectorsDeputy DirectorsTeam Leaders/G7sTeam Leaders/G7sTeam Leaders/G7sPolicy advisersPolicy advisersPolicy advisersAdmin/support staffAdmin/support staffAdmin/support staff
38 How can Whitehall respond? – Project boards Blockages in the systemQuite often it is the lack of smaller steers that cause blockages in the system – for example needing short comments on a given document, consent before something goes up to a minister or a request for information on a given issue.Boards themselves cannot be too big lest they become unwieldy. Yet at the same time this can limit the input other interested parties can have in the development and delivery of policy.These delays can cause considerable angst for project managers – in particular those managing project timelines. My own experience with managing projects is that the delays tend to be around trying to get clearance on relatively minor points from a variety of different sources rather than in more important issues such as agreement on core principles of a project or carrying out in-depth analysis on an evidence base that underpins or has a significant impact on the project.If, as with departmental correspondence, the delays are in the “messaging” rather than in the content, to what extent can social media smooth out these delays?
39 How can Whitehall respond? – Project boards Problems with the board structureHaving project and programme boards is an essential part of ensuring that civil servants are accountable to ministers – especially where projects and programmes cut across policy and departmental lines.Therefore, the next few slides will look at how Social Media can be used to complement rather than replace board structures.There are two specific issues that I have looked at:Project and programme boards are too inflexible to deal with smaller issues, which can often cause delays in the development and delivery of policyProject and programme boards need to be limited in size lest they become unwieldy; however this can mean those with only a small but perhaps essential part to play can sometimes be excluded.
40 How can Whitehall respond? – Project boards Limitations of “project boards”While the principle of project and programme boards is essential for the accountability of decisions, the inflexible nature of them – in particular the “grade-driven” nature of them can sometimes mean that the best people for the job, or those most likely to have solutions to given problems, are not always included.As boards need to be limited in size (and scope) in order to be effective, further barriers to input are raised. The challenge then as now, is how to ensure the highest quality input for the minimum of resources – especially as Whitehall downsizes over the next few years.There is also the residual “culture” of “command and control” within the civil service in general. The impact of social media in the outside world, and the pressures it is already generating, means that command and control structures and systems are no longer suitable to meet those pressures. This inevitably means that project and programme boards will have to become more flexible.
41 Applying social media to project boards A typical project boardA deputy-director-led project board typically looks like the diagram below – where team leaders from other divisions or directorates will be invited to take part, but the core work is done within the division. This model/set up means that there is limited scope and input into problem solving. A non-networked board looks can be illustrated as below:Deputy DirectorsDeputy DirectorsDeputy DirectorsDeputy DirectorsTeam Leaders/G7sTeam Leaders/G7sTeam Leaders/G7sTeam Leaders/G7sPolicy advisersPolicy advisersPolicy advisersPolicy advisersAdmin/support staffAdmin/support staffAdmin/support staffAdmin/support staff
42 Applying social media to project boards A “networked” (or connected) project boardA “networked” or connected project board, taking advantage of the features offered by social media is more likely to take advantage of those extra links. For example staff in admin and support roles (Icon A) may have links to people far outside and beyond the knowledge of project managers. Such people may have an interest or be able to provide a one-off input which could be valuable.A
43 Applying social media to project boards Sharing documentsIn the private sector there are already a number of firms that allow multiple remote users to access confidential documents over secure connections. The former Government Office Network experimented with the use of saving core documents. However, little came of it.The rise of social media and networking means that there is an opportunity for documents to be held on secure servers through which only colleagues with access to the .gsi.gov.uk network can have access to. Rather than cascading and re-cascading documents (and thus clogging up systems), a Whitehall-wide Twitter system would help others access those documents. Administrators – as in the GO-Network system would be able to restrict the rights of access depending on the nature of the documents deposited.
44 Using social media for consultation The “discrete” method of consultation is one where responses are invited against a “fixed” document – e.g. a green paper or a white paper. The limitations of this method of communication is that entrenches 2-way conversation – where it is the Government trying to have a conversation with “everyone else”.A criticism of this sort of set up is that it is “adversarial” and that it does not allow either side to respond flexibly to constructive responses that are put forward. It also limits discussions between disagreeing parties to only those Whitehall decides are “key stakeholders.Policy teamDepartment of StateConsultation publicationConsultation responses“Key Stakeholders”“Everyone Else
45 Using social media for consultation The flexibility of social media means that citizens may want to engage in a conversation about policy making, rather than having a situation where they are only able to make one submission. It also means that citizens may want to have conversations with other people and organisations about the content of such consultationsDepartment of StateThere is an opportunity for the Government to “open up” the lobbying and submissions from “key stakeholders” to scrutiny from the general public too. This could increase the transparency of decision-making and help hold “powerful interests” to account – particularly if the state “mandates” such organisations to respond to questions from the public
46 Using Social Media to “crowd source” There is also the opportunity for Whitehall departments to “crowd source” solutions from the outside world by allowing policy teams to place themselves in the middle of “the debate” around a given issue.Department of StatePolicy team“The networked world”This approach is not without its risks – especially as this sort of action is “informal” by its nature. For this sort of activity to work and to mitigate the risks. I think that the Civil Service Code needs to be updated to ensure that expectations are managed in areas where the line between professional and personal becomes increasingly blurred.
47 A problem with relying on social media While the scenario below may indicate a more inclusive method of policy making and problem solving, the use of social media brings its own problems. A key problem is a symptom of the “digital divide” – i.e. not everyone will have access to, or the skills or desire to use social media tools.Department of StateMinisterPolicy team“Digitally excluded” people who are outside of the policy conversation within the networked world“The networked world”Social media users as a cohort may have particular features that do not necessarily reflect non-social media users and/or wider society as a whole. Therefore, to rely on social media as a panacea/magic bullet to solve problems may not need to equitable/fair policy outcomes if steps are not taken to include digitally-excluded groups in such processes.
48 The Civil Service Code and social media One of the strengths of social media is the ability of users to personalise the tools. As far as policy and politics-related social media is concerned, I have observed that the more highly-regarded users (i.e. not just a “numbers” game) are the ones who:Are able to publicise/cascade interesting nuggets of information, articles or analyses that are otherwise missed by the mainstream mediaInteract with followers regularlyInteract with followers politelyMakes constructive comments or suggestionsHas a unique insight into specific issues – e.g. through professional expertise such as law, accountancy, civil service, campaigning, academiaOccasionally comments on wider interests beyond the main subject area of content – e.g. an accountant who supports a random football teamEnable their unique personalities (or personas) through the toolsWere able to form strong virtual networks of interestDid not treat social media as just another outlet for press releases or sloganeering. (“Social” implies a conversation, not a lecture!)Were able to use different social media platforms in a manner that complemented (and as a result amplified) the issues being discussed.
49 The Civil Service Code and social media Does the Civil Service Code provide enough guidance and safeguards for civil servants using social media? This is what it says:Be credibleBe accurate, fair, thorough and transparent.Be consistentEncourage constructive criticism and deliberation. Be cordial, honest and professional at all times.Be responsiveWhen you gain insight, share it where appropriate.Be integratedWherever possible, align online participation with other offline communications.Be a civil servantRemember that you are an ambassador for your organisation. Wherever possible, disclose your position as a representative of your department or agency.What there is no guidance on is the use of social media in a capacity that blurs the line between the professional and personal.
51 The need for more evidence What information do we need/want to know?Formation of “virtual networks of interest” and how they functionTake up/use of twitter hash tags and live blogging (both active and passive) to cover/follow ministerial speeches over a given period of timeTake up/use of social media tools by “decision makers” over a given period of time (thinking both setting up of accounts and intensity/frequency of use)Take up/use of social media tools by the public sector in an exclusively professional contextTake up/use of social media tools by public sector employees in a “semi-professional/semi-personal” context (esp given lack of firm guidance)Analysis of what “time of day/night” social media users are likely to use such tools to discuss politics and policy makingInterviews with “decision makers” on to what extent social media has been able to: 1) make them account for their decisions, and 2) influence/change what they originally were going to doA detailed SWOT analysis (poss crowd sourced?)A detailed audience segmentation exercise/analysis (poss crowd sourced?)
52 The need for more evidence What information do we need/want to know?Running of piloted “open source” policy-making within a small policy area – putting a policy team at the centre of “networked society” to develop policy in a discrete/small areaCovering the engagement/scrutiny of key stakeholders by members of the public; thinking in particular “vested interests” who will be expected to justify their positions on given issues to members of the public taking partThat policy team being networked to engage with people who are following any speeches and/or media appearances given by ministers or officials, and engagement in any conferences being hosted covering that policy area that the policy team is not attendingA scoping project looking at how a civil service version of Twitter could work, what the potential benefits are and what issues it would face (e.g. FoI & DPA issues)Crowd sourcing to find out what information other people think we need to know – and what information other people would want. (In particular what questions it would want asked).