Social media black hole as Commonwealth soaks up ‘likes’


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Is anyone measuring government’s social media engagement to see how it’s working beyond racking up “likes” and retweets? Digital engagement must take the next step.

The competition between states and the Commonwealth to improve services and engagement through the use of social media has been never stronger. But is anyone measuring this engagement to see how it’s working beyond racking up “likes” and retweets?

Public service commissioner Stephen Sedgwick has made a pitch for celebrating the achievements in social media innovation made by federal agencies. Highlighting examples such as the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ census tweets, Run That Town and Spotlight 2.0, Sedgwick says the bureau is building a long-term engagement with the community, essential as it relies on voluntary compliance to achieve its mission. Tackling this extra engagement in his State of the Service report for the first time, Sedgwick said the public has come to expect instant and creative engagement:

“Many Australians are ‘connected’ by way of mobile technologies on an almost constant basis. With this comes an increasing expectation that they will be able to interact with government online or through mobile platforms, in the same way they connect with friends, family and private sector organisations.”

Commonwealth Twitter accounts are holding steady at 191 different accounts tracked by the Department of Finance’s APS Twitter leaderboard, similar to last year, with only five that could be considered inactive. While perennial favourite @Australia from Tourism Australia gets upwards of 10,000 favourites a month and 7500 retweets, with @dfat and @CSIROnews also pulling significant followers, there are also around 40 agency accounts that get no engagement from the public at all. Replies to the public’s engagement attempts are not recorded.

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