When officialdom meets social media

Written by Adam


After all the riots across Britain it was apparent that many of the rioters were using social media to get messages to and fro.  During the TV programme Question Time the panel was challenged about the authorities’ failure to keep up with this.

The problem is that most politicians and the police (and other authorities) don’t embrace these technologies – they see them as a fad.  This means that they don’t understand the nuances of how they are used and don’t know how to use them effectively.

They’re at about the same stage as the average parent who tries to use ‘cool’ language – and only succeeds in making them look anything but cool!

Twitter may seem simple, but to use it well – and all the associated tools that really make it work well – it takes time.  You can’t just jump on the bandwagon and learn everything in half an hour.  It’s like nuclear power; in the right hands and used in the right way it can be extremely productive – in the wrong hands it can be devastating.

Some of the bigger commercial organisations have ‘got’ it.  I recently tweeted about Sky TV not allowing the use of Sky Anytime+ to be accessed from a different ISP and was contacted by their technical support team who discussed the problem with me. There are stories about the customer responsiveness of companies like Vodaphone, Barclays, Argos and Virgin – all of whom have taken the time and made the effort to really get Twitter to work for them.

These companies know what people are saying about them and respond fast.  If the police knew how to monitor Twitter properly they would at least know what was going on and be able to mitigate some of it and be better prepared.  At least they would have a better chance of identifying ringleaders and those who were active in stirring things up.

Of course people can use Twitter for negative purposes, but they can just as easily use it for positive reasons.  Officialdom shouldn’t be scared of Twitter, it’s a tool; they should embrace it, not dismiss it.


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