in e-Gov, Visualization

Social Media in the Swedish Public Sector

Andrew Krzmarzick, Govloop community manager, asked me which swedish government agencies are using social media to communicate with citizens. The twitter message space is too short for an answer so here is a more thorough reply. I will specifically look at Twitter which seems to be gaining popularity in the swedish public sector.

Use of social media tools in the public sector is in its infancy in Sweden. In a study conducted by the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce in 2009 (PDF) , around 12% of agencies reported that they were using social media channels in their communication. In another study by the Swedish Public Relations Association 75% of PR managers were evaluating the use of social media but only 5% had involved social media in the communication strategy. Many agencies are trying out new tools to see how they fit in their communication strategy. Most are using them as a news feed (one-way communication) and do not reply to questions. The number of followers varies greatly. Some examples:

Examples of government agencies using Twitter
Agency Twitter Fwrs. Content
National Board of Health and Welfare @SoS_nyheter 61 Newsfeed (one-way communication).
Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency @Krisinformation 2658 Crisis info for swedes at home and abroad aggregated from other agencies. Unfortunately no geo tagging so the feed is hard to follow and most of the stuff is not related to your location.
Medical Products Agency @LV_MPA 141 News about medications and medical equipment regulations (like FDA in the US).
Statistics Sweden @StatsSweden 212 News updates about national statistics.
Swedish Board of Agriculture @teamforetagande 257 Information about business opportunities in the countryside.
Swedish Trade Council @Exportradet 116 News related to export opportunities for Swedish busniesses.

Some agencies have also started using Facebook. The National Heritage Board (Riksantikvarieämbetet) on Facebook has close to 1200 fans. They have also used Flickr to increase access to parts of their archives. Currently the images are low-res only but that may change in the future.

Municipalities on Twitter

Many municipalities have started using Twitter to push information to citizens. Most are using it as a one-way communication channel, but some are engaging in dialogue. The number of municipalities on twitter is increasing almost on a daily basis. In my list of swedish municipalities on twitter there are currently 71 (out of 290). Many of them are not publishing any tweets and may only have registered the account to get a proper twitter handle.

In he following visualization you get an overview of how the municipalities compare with regards to number of tweets, followers and “early adopter”-status (“Age” as in number of days on twitter). Uppsala (north of Stockholm) has over 500 followers and published 941 tweets in their 367 days on Twitter. See here for a larger chart.

Observations

Some organizations are following citizens on Twitter and may not have realized that people may feel uncomfortable having an agency following them.

There are also some fake agencies on twitter. Swedish national authority for signals intelligence, FRA, has a twitter feed (with the correct logo), but looking at the tweets it is likely a fake. How should agencies relate to this? The police has several twitter feeds it seems. But they are not managed by the agency itself. How can citizens trust the information in these channels when it is difficult to see if they are managed by the agency or some personal initiative?

Recommendations from the government

On March 23 the government published a proposal saying (my translation):

Social media tools create new possibilites for communication with citizens and businesses. The E-government delegation will create guidelines for the public sector use of social media tools.

This means that we will likely see more agencies trying out social media channels in the future.

Do you have more information? Please comment!

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