Wednesday, 3 August 2011

So you're a public service organisation thinking of starting a twitter account?...

Although this story is about a police account - who have been very quick to start using social media, very well- I think it is also equally applicable to health organisations who might make the move.


  1. I think it's fair to have different expectations on how quickly and reliably tweets to what are clearly individual accounts (eg. PcsoLove_31151) and institutional, staffed accounts (eg. @brumpolice) should receive a response. For staffed accounts, no reason why a profile shouldn't include "office hours" for which cover is undertaken. For individual accounts cover would be a nonsense, and as @jonhickman said, "you're allowed time off".

    Since Twitter doesn't have presence awareness, people need to realise it is possible no one is on the other end sometimes!

    (There's also the related question with individuals' work accounts that arises when people move jobs: who owns the Twitter feed, and did people follow the person or the position, as in when @BBCLauraK turned into @ITVLauraK and took us all with her).

  2. I agree with Simon re: office hours, but as Jon stated in his blog the reason we, and others, use Twitter to talk to the police is because the matter is not urgent. If it was then we'd call the central or emergency numbers. So I think that my expectations of public services are realistic.

    Maybe it's a difference in how we view social media?

    I see Twitter as a public space, an online community, and I'm pretty sure that if I went up to a police officer to tell him about anti social behaviour in my area he wouldn't tell me to call in and report it. So why is it different online?

    I'd be happy to send a police account a private message with my name, phone number etc if they asked me for it, and they could deal with the issue when they see fit. This will happen eventually and I will bet that some forces already do it, just not Birmingham Police.

    All that is required is a change in procedure to keep up with the times and how people choose to communicate.

  3. Thanks Simon and Martin,
    Some of the latest comments to Jon's blog have been really interesting.
    This story is one of crossed wires, but does represent a wider culture shift perhaps.
    A comment to Jon's blog linked to this story by @documentally which is much more concerning.
    The blog post had been written with video footage posted, but no-one had thought to contact the police. And when it was suggested that they should the response was "You need witnesses.. even though it's here and on CCTV?"

    If we're going to be prepared to use social media at all it looks like there is going to be a great need to make clear what can be achieved.

  4. One thing that stood out about the Documentally story was that commenters were stating that the train staff didn't get involved.

    I can understand that concerns over safety may have stopped them getting personally involved but I would have expected that they should have contacted British Transport Police and asked them to attend at the next station.


I am reintroducing word verification to cut back on spam posts. I'm sorry if you find it frustrating,