I joined the Civil Service a few months ago and one of the things both my parting and joining managers advised me to do was make the most of a particularly valuable time-limited offer: the fresh perspective. So I took a ‘fresh’ look at our approach to social insight.
Our social insight approach to date
We’ve been using Coosto as our social media monitoring tool for the last year and when I arrived the team were doing a great job of providing swift overviews for our fast-paced media colleagues. But we were reactive; being driven by the news agenda and stretched so thin we could only really provide surface-level insight.
We knew we wanted to do more - delve deeper and add real value for the department. We felt that with the right tools and processes in place we could be spotting conversations as they develop and providing pro-active, actionable insights to inform strategy and content creation.
Defining the problem
We receive lots of different types of requests that require very different outputs from us as a digital team. But broadly we could categorise them in the following way:
Categorising these requests has not only allowed us to manage the division’s expectations of our time and output, but also manage our own time – ensuring we prioritise the right things, not the easy things - which is surprisingly hard to do!
The tools and processes to deliver social insight
Keeping in mind our main objective (to provide in-depth insight for planning digital engagement) we have strictly prioritised our work to focus on the campaigns and policy areas where we can add real value. It’s been a bit of mind shift, but we’re getting to a place where we’re providing pro-active work in these areas, rather than always working from a request. Which is good, because if you’re not the expert it can be difficult to know what to ask us for!
We’ve had to devise a plan to upskill the rest of the division to relieve some of the resource pressure caused by this displacement of work. We’re teaching everyone how to monitor online conversation around their own campaigns and understand how this should influence their engagement approach. Building this capability has become a project in itself, but a hugely valuable one which I’m pleased to say the division has a real appetite for.
But of course you need to plan for the unexpected in government! And so we’ve done just that - starting with a social ‘barometer’ to track wider health-related conversation online and highlight any developing issues. We’re still in beta, but we’re learning lots already and hope it will help us engage with our audiences in a more meaningful way in the future.
The benefits of a standardised social insight approach
We’ve tied together all of the above into a suite of new ‘products’ and shared our new approach with our colleagues in the Media Centre and Policy Communications. So far the response has been really positive. By standardising our approach we have been able to manage people’s expectations about what we can deliver and when, focus and spend more time on high priority projects and encourage the wider team to take on some digital insight digging for themselves. We’ll continue to optimise the approach and tools as we learn…