Making new digital video guides.
I had Dana and Michelle over today working with me on my second set of digital video guides for social media. Our aim by Friday is to complete the Twitter guide started by Alice during the first project, along with creating a separate guide introducing social media analytics.
As Alice had done much of the ground work for the script, the main focus of our planning was ensuring that we had covered all of the essentials while working out what other things could be put into a successor guide that goes beyond the basics. One of the things that became apparent (as last time) was the importance of planning – and setting aside sufficient time for it. It’s all too easy to list a few bullet points, start screencasting (recording the actions of what you are doing on screen) and narrating to it – then missing out key elements.
As Martin and Katie showed with the Facebook guide I commissioned them to make, there is a difference between how to use a tool or platform, and how to use it well. It’s not a case of setting up an account, buying lots of friends and followers, posting a few messages and saying “Done it!” Because there were a number of other things that we wanted to go into, the basket for “things for a future guide” for Twitter became bigger. This is not about more advanced technical stuff. Rather it’s about how to make better use of the basics that are available. You don’t have to have lots of programmed and automated integration to make an account popular. One of the great things about Twitter is its simplicity.
On the social media analytics, it was more complicated. Not least because with this we are not taking a single tool or platform. Rather we are looking at a myriad of tools and platforms, trying to work out which are the ones most suitable for picking out the right pieces of information from all of the noise out there. This is where we looked at what were the basic metrics people and organisations were likely to be interested in for the purposes of influencing decision-making and activities.
There are a number of propriety-based metrics around that seek to give you ‘scores’ on your social media use – some free and others that charge. One of the discussions going on in the Whitehall jungle is to find out which ones are suitable for departmental decision-making and why. Fortunately the people leading on and contributing to this piece of work know their stuff so are less likely to fall into the trap of buying up something that ties them into something that is inaccessible, not fit for purpose and expensive to get out of. Hence why if you are in a public sector organisation and are scrambling around for advice, please get in touch with the Government Digital Service BEFORE you go out and spend lots of money.
Rather than looking at an individual platform in detail (there are more qualified people who are paid to sell these things), we’ve gone for an approach that encourages audiences to ask critical questions of their own and organisation’s needs. What are the things that will help inform decision-making? Will it be the number of Twitter followers? The number of Facebook ‘likes’? The number of hits my website or blog receives?
One of the hangovers from my civil service and university days is a vague interest in time series data. What do things look like over time, and what can we interpret from the various trends? Are there consistencies in spikes and troughs at various times of the year, or are they related to specific events?
Don’t forget the humans behind the computer!
It still needs someone to look at all this stuff and make some judgements. It’s all very well having thousands of followers, but what if those followers are all sending messages about how they hate your organisation, or worse, are automated accounts? What is the quality of interaction and feedback like? Is it consistent with your other channels? (e.g. email/web correspondence, phone enquiries or even those coming through by the post?) As far as large organisations are concerned, social media should not be seen as standing separately from other forms of engagement with the public, but part of it. That way you can get a more informed picture of not just what you might be doing wrong, but what you might be doing right.
Tomorrow is screencasting and recording day. Dana and Michelle will be doing the voice-overs. As I’ve mentioned previously, when delivering seminars and presentations, having additional voices breaks up the monotony of just having myself up front. It also demonstrates to anyone who considers them for employment in the future that they worked on these digital video guides and were integral to their production.