Between May and June 2014 we hosted #Talkdigital: a writing competition which gave us the opportunity to listen to our followers, fans and website-users. We wanted to hear from people who connect online with the Institutions. What do they think of how the EU communicates digitally? What changes would be most welcomed?
Run by the European Commission’s Social Media team, the initiative, which received 50 entries, provided us some really valuable insights that we will seek to include in all future communication activities.
We would like to share some of these insights with you…
LISTEN, RESPOND, ENGAGE
Engagement and reliability are golden on social media. Since the establishment of our social media presence we have been trying to be responsive to our followers and fans, to do our best to keep providing them with useful and practical information.
Social media engagement should not be a passive experience. Instead of waiting on your followers and your community reach out to you, proactive engagement can really make a difference in community management. This requires more resources than passive listening but the benefits far outweigh the costs.
The #TalkDigital winning entry suggests that EU institutions set-up a “permanent digital helpdesk service for the EU”; a sort of customer service-like approach to citizens’ questions, following the example of companies such as @DB_Bahn, @eurostar or @talktalkcare on Twitter. Even though the EU already provides a similar service via the Europe Direct Information Centers, we understand that the world of digital institutional communication is increasingly moving towards real-time digital reliability. The idea of moving such services towards a more digitalized dimension certainly fits the way communication is evolving.
BLOGS ARE NOT DEAD
Blogs are your CV while Twitter is your business card. Apart from the networking value that blogs provide, the blogosphere is still a very active environment which has successfully braved the wave on new digital communication tools in the past decade. Reports of the demise of blogging, while based on official studies, may often have their findings easily twisted to support attention-grabbing headlines.
The 2013 Digital Influence Report from Technorati Media shows that blogs rank third behind retail and brand sites. More people are attracted to microblogging on platforms like Twitter and Tumblr than to blogging in longer form, but this is not because traditional blogging doesn’t serve a vital and ongoing purpose; it is simply because the accessibility and ease-of-management of new microblogging platforms have opened the blogging market to a whole range of new users.
Humans have spent millennia telling stories in longer formats. This tradition is not going to fade away simply because it now takes place online or because we have the option to blurt 140-character messages at each other. Although blogging is no longer the number one choice in terms online content platforms, it won’t die. Don’t worry.
ALL FEEDBACK IS WELCOME
Not simply just “welcome”, your feedback is vital. Being on the frontline of European Commission communication, it is necessary for us to apply an external perspective on how we engage and interact with you, our followers. The #TalkDigital competition has allowed us to learn a great deal about the way we work, what we are doing well and where we can look to improve.
Above all else we have learned that effective communication is a two-way process. It is not enough for us to simply say what we have to say; we need to listen to your views, insights and opinions.
Probably the biggest complaint being made of the European Institutions is that they are distant: cut off from meaningful contact with the peoples of Europe. Yet Social Media provides us with an excellent opportunity to chat, comment, like and share our perspectives on the future of Europe. #TalkDigital has taught us that we need to make better use of these channels. We need to respond to questions and engage with social media users in a more proactive way.
It is said that timing is everything. We have a new Commission being named today. What better opportunity is there for a jump start? Although we are a small team here in the EC Social Media sector we will do all we can to communicate effectively and efficiently with you in order to bring us all closer to Europe.