On Twitter, LinkedIn and Government 2.0

There was an interesting tweet today from @Sherro58 concerning the relative growth in popularity of Twitter and LinkedIn in Australia. It got me thinking about our experience in the gov2qld community here in Queensland.

To summarise, it highlights

“the number of Unique Australian Visitors to the site (UAV’s) per month, or an average between the UAV’s and user numbers reported by reputable sources.”

For February, 2012, the results were as follows:

4. LinkedIn – 2,200,000 (up 400,000)
5. Twitter – 1,800,000 (steady)

Of course, that month on month rise in LinkedIn is probably related to the use of LinkedIn in a work context (and thus reflects people being largely on leave in January!). Nevertheless, an interesting discussion ensued on Twitter regarding the relative take up of each in the Australian Public Service and their use in driving the Government 2.0 agenda.

We have some experience of this here in Queensland.

Eighteen months ago we started the gov2qld Community of Practice as a place to discuss, brainstorm and ultimately promote many of the initiatives under the Government 2.0 banner.

We deliberately created the group with three key points of contact to our target community.

  1. A monthly face to face meetup
  2. A presence on Twitter
  3. A LinkedIn Group

It’s been interesting to see how those differing touch points have worked together to see the community flourish both in terms of interest (there are now close to 700 members of the LinkedIn group) but also in terms of the quality of conversations that are taking place (online and face to face).

Twitter has proved to be largely incidental.

Whilst we post information about events and discussions on Twitter, there are few re-tweets or conversations started.

Face to Face meetings have steadily risen in terms of numbers but have always been the most active in terms of discussions, ideas and collaboration.

This is an important lesson for the gov2.0 community. Online community simply cannot replace face to face interactions. It just cant. However, it can definitely compliment it.

LinkedIn has been the standout, though, in terms of maintaining the community and attracting new people into it.

Indeed my anecdotal observation is that a fair few public servants have joined LinkedIn solely (at least initially) for the purpose of joining the gov2qld community.

What we have learned very clearly is that face to face meetings build trust and ensure momentum, whereas our online community (primarily LinkedIn) maintains that community. The two are symbiotic. Without either I don’t think we would be where we are today.

What we have also learned is that people are unlikely to join ‘yet another’ online community ( we also started a gov2qld group on OzLoop which attracted an extremely small number of sign-ups) however, building a community within an existing community (i.e. LinkedIn)  has proven extremely fruitful for us.

I would have to add, however, that LinkedIn has proven to be a poor platform for online discussion! It’s incredibly hard to find discussions that took place even a short time ago and the layout of the Group pages gives at least one of our members migranes!

The power though is that the target audience for our community already, or at least to a growing degree, are already members – and signing up to a group is trivial for them.

As for me, in the past I couldn’t quite see the value of LinkedIn – apart of course, as an online C.V. and a place to be ‘head hunted’. Today, I think very differently. For me, LinkedIn is a place to keep up to date with and build community around those things that interest me – although I still reserve it for ‘professional’ things that interest me.

As such, to mis-quote the Apple add, it’s a thousand communities in one!


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