I think we built our reputation as a digital team on the strength of our approach to digital engagement.
We posted lots of examples of our digital engagement efforts on this blog, from the work we did during the listening exercise back in 2011 (The mechanics of listening), to crowdsourcing ideas for health apps (Maps and apps for health and care). We’re blogged about our digital engagement work on dementia (Digital engagement on dementia) and compassionate care (Digital engagement to support compassion). We’ve shared our approaches (Being a real person on Twitter) and vowed to deploy our skills only on the stuff that really matters (The end of pat-on-the-head digital engagement).
We’ve told you how to take part in online conversations and why you don’t need a social media strategy. And we've shared how we used digital engagement as part of our work on Ebola, and the platforms we’re using to host conversations.
We’ve thought quite hard about how to make sense of internet culture, and how to apply it to the ways that a government department communicates and makes policy.
But we need to be better. Internet culture moves on. Some of the techniques we used back in 2011 when we were experimenting with listening seem almost quaint now. And digital engagement is no longer the preserve of a few enthusiasts with a licence to experiment with social media culture. Expectations are higher, and we need to deliver.
So our focus for this year will be to:
Build communities: We will develop new methods to extend the reach and value of our engagement work by building sustained, highly engaged digital communities amongst core audience groups
We’ve developed lots of ways to use digital engagement techniques to have conversations with people who care about our work.
But although plenty of the examples I mentioned above have been successful on their own terms, we haven’t often built relationships with our audiences in the way that the most successful campaigning organisations do.
As a result, we start from scratch too often, talking to people as if it’s the first time we’ve met them, rather than building on conversations we’ve had before.
A government department will never quite be able to operate like 38 degrees or change.org, but we do have a lot to learn from their methods.
So this year we’ll be putting effort into building more sustained engagement with our audiences, in particular by improving the ways we use email and digital outreach.
Insight at our fingertips: We will guide decisions about communications work every day based on metrics that matter, by implementing new ways for digital team members to have data, analytics and insight at our fingertips
We’ve long known that the insights we can derive from the ways people use the internet have the potential to revolutionise the ways we plan and deliver our work at DH.
And we’ve had a few goes at gathering and reporting on this data. (If I had a pound for every new monitoring/reporting dashboard I’ve been responsible for I’d probably have about £84.)
We’ve never quite nailed it, but we’re determined to make more decisions based on the metrics that matter. Our work this year will be as much about the capability of our team and the ways we influence others, as it will be about new software and reporting dashboards.
Tell stories: We will develop new methods for compelling digital content, to build support for sustained DH communications amongst core audience groups
We know that if we want to inspire people to take an action, behave in a different way, or join a conversation, then we need to give them a good reason to.
One of the ways we can do this is by creating compelling content. That shouldn’t be too hard - we’re responsible for issues that people really care about, like obesity, social care, and the future of the NHS.
We’ve had some successes creating moving, motivating content in the last year, on dementia and ebola in particular.
So this year, we’ll be putting effort into doing that more consistently across our priority work, and finding better ways to put our most compelling content to use.