Hyperlocal


5 stars of open local democracy?

Posted on 19th June 2014 by

5 star

There’s a conversation going on in South Birmingham – led by Karen Cheney and Austin Rodriguez and others – about how to get more public democratic processes shared more widely.  This builds on various work (including a Cllr in Billesley buying some kit to live stream for the first time their ward ctte meeting).    At a meeting yesterday we talked a bit about equipment and platforms, but also that not all meetings need to be live streamed etc.  So, I wondered, could establish stages of activity for digital open local democracy?  I said I write up my thoughts as a blog post….

What are the principles?

In the mould of Tim Berners-Lee, I’m adapting his 5 stars of open dataI’m know I won’t be the first person to think through these stages, – I’ve searched but not found the 5 stars thing for very local public meetings. If you find it then please share.  Update: this is where I’ve seen something similar before: http://www.comms2point0.co.uk/comms2point0/2014/6/3/proposals-to-improve-health-and-wellbeing-board-social-media.html/

This is a summation of some of our experience social reporting over the years and the following list applies to local processes, currently things like police priority setting meetings,  patient forums for GP and CCG’s, council ward committee’s, housing association walkabouts, neighbourhood forum meetings or neighbourhood watch groups.  This is the myriad of daily democracy that we have created over time.

5 stars of  open (hyper)local democracy

 

1 star:  Be seen and be welcoming.  Putting agenda’s and minutes somewhere where it is very easy to find them and where it is easy for others to share them. Make sure everyone knows they’re invited.  (This could be a blog, just on google docs with a link or creating an eventbrite to invite people to meetings. It can include putting invites through doors and agenda’s and minutes on public noticeboards.)

2 star: Talk about what you’re doing.  This means that you have a #hashtag for your meeting and publicise it and also share what you know (make sure that background information to papers is publicly available). You are open to others live reporting or recording what you are doing.

3 star: Do it live.  You do the above but you also do it during your meeting or event.  This is where you can introduce a livestream of video or audio or live social reporting through twitter, facebook and or a blog. This also means you only hold meetings in places where there is good, publicly usable wi-fi or 3g.

4 star:  Involve people outside the room in the meeting.  This is a step change from being seen to be doing. This values the questions and comments made on the web as being as important to your meeting as the ones made in the room.  They are incorporated though hashtags or services like cover it live, blyve or a facebook q&a as the event unfolds.  This could also mean organising events specifically for talking to people on the web.

5 star:  It’s a permanent conversation. This fifth step recognises that the civic conversation you’re having doesn’t just happen at times and places you decide.  It can happen all the time. It means being responsive in between meetings when, for example a comment appears on a website or a hashtag.

 

There are other stages I could have added – using open data for example, but I’m trying to envisage stages by which we can help us develop from the familiar “meeting with 1 man and a dog in a draught village hall”.  So perhaps the 5 stars of “more” open local democracy.

Behind all this is another core principle:

Keep it simple:

  • Collaborate.  Don’t do this in silos, have things that involve many services, voluntary or statutory.
  • Use available tools.  make things happen with the mobile phones around you, using livestreaming through google hangout or similar, rather than needing to build a thing.  (there are very fine services used for some formal democratic processes, but they’re not essential here)
  • Use available kit – what can you achieve with a smart phone or two?  How much do you really need to buy, is video right for your sort of event?
  • Go to where people are  If the busiest place to find people is on facebook can you use that for your online conversations.  Sharing live events online through hyperlocal blogs is another example

If you can’t make it work without these then clearly start looking for other ways of doing but start with keep it simple, not with “we need to build a portal for that” .

Thanks also to our very own Steph Clarke for helping me think through this – she’s oodles of experience of encouraging public services to get involved with people online both at work and her volunteer efforts at www.wv11.co.uk

 

 

 

Facebook Reach – How to reach your non for profit / hyperlocal audience for free

Posted on 2nd May 2014 by

Something has been really frustrating me recently about Facebook – and it’s been covered lots of other blogs - the reach that pages are getting with their posts has seemingly plummeted  since Facebook has moved towards a model of trying to get you to “boost” your content – or rather, pay to get a wider audience to see it. But when you’re a not for profit, or a community website paying to promote content just isn’t an option….and as we’ve posted before it may not actually be the best option.

Insights and more importantly reach – specifically how to reach more people is something we get asked about a fair bit at Social Media Surgeries  and when I got asked about it again this week I decided to do some digging to try and work out 1. What on is going on with reach and 2. Can we improve page reach without paying?

The other day I posted a story about young girl Freya Powers, to the WV11 website and facebook page - Freya has not long been diagnosed with non-hodgkins lymphoma and her parents are fundraising for the cancer ward she is being treated on. We basically put a call out asking for help with the fundraising. It was a popular post which is why I’ve chosen this one to look at.

This is what the reach looks like on the front page of Facebook:

Freya post 1

22 people liked this content, 38 people shared it and 4,168 people reached - just under 60% of our pages followers

BUT 38 people have shared this and our reach is less that our total page likes? I know from past experience that when you see shares like that the reach is normally way way over the total numbers of likes on a our page, so I looked deeper.

Here is the expanded insights  for that post:

Freya post 1 expanded

It’s still showing a reach of 4,168 put but it’s now showing 42 likes  - 22 on our page  - and a further 20 on shares…. And then I realised something  - on previous versions of Facebook insights you could view a separate figure for viral reach and this wasn’t showing, so I went searching.  I download the full  insights file….

They say this:

  • Lifetime The number of people who saw your Page post in News Feed or ticker, or on your Page’s Timeline. (Unique Users) 4186
  • Lifetime The number of impressions of your post in News Feed or ticker or on your Page’s Wall. (Total count) 12033

But then the figures from “followers” only say this:

  • Lifetime The number of people who saw your Page post because they’ve liked your Page (Unique Users) 2018
  • Lifetime The number of impressions of your Page post to people who have liked your page. (Total count) 4731

So it appears facebook have started to combine  pages organic reach with it’s viral reach in its overview and when looked at like that it’s worse than I thought.

Facebook have delivered our content to 32% of the people who liked our page –  the rest of the figures have come from people sharing the post which is a huge drop in reach to what we were seeing just 12 months ago.

Reach in decline

 

Edgerank Checker  have done a much wider piece of research into this and they’ve noted a year on year decline too

For the typical Page on Facebook in March 2014:

  • Organic Reach per Fan = 6.51%
  • Fan Reach per Fan = 6.46%
  • Viral Reach per Fan = 0.99%

Where were we before this?

Organic Reach per Fan (Median):

  • Feb 2012 = 16%

  • Sep 2013 = 12.60%

  • Nov 2013 = 10.15%

  • Dec 2013 = 7.83%

  • Mar 2014 = 6.51%”

     

Filtering

I Googled to see if I could find an answer for this steep decline and the best explanation I could find was on this Tech Crunch article - The filtered feed problem - Why Is Facebook Page Reach Decreasing? More Competition And Limited Attention

It is well worth a read but essentially it  says – while we add more people and more things to our facebook feed by making friends and liking “stuff”  - the amount of  time we spend looking at the feed stays the same so facebook are working to try and make that time relevant – which means filtering irrelevant content.

Which means followers won’t always see the stuff we want them to see.

It also has a really interesting simplification on the algorithm facebook uses to filter posts.

BUT importantly it also states that all pages are not treated equally

Facebook is penalising pages for link bait tactics and spammy posts.  Post memes or banal “share this if you love your mom” or “1 like = 1 respect”  text and image based content or over share repetitive content you are going to see a sharp reduction in the amount of places your content is seen.

So how do we stay on the right side of facebook’s filtering and increase your reach without paying to boost your content?

Based on the post from Wv11 I shared above we have an average post to followers reach of 32% –  which by looking at all the sites I’ve read through today puts us at the higher end of the scale for organic (non paid for) reach .

Why do I think that is? Well, I think on whole it’s by following  these set of tips

  • Be useful and relevant - is the content something your page followers would want to see – is it the type of posts they are used to seeing? Write about the things you know about and your audience will care about.
  • Accessible content  - Think mobile as well as desktop. Lots of people use their mobile to browse the internet and specifically Facebook , is your content mobile friendly  -When we post links to stories  try and summarise that content for mobile only readers – some people still wont or cant click on on external links from the page, especially those with contracts or PAYG mobiles that include free facebook browsing but not a lot of other data.
  • Photos, photos and more photos Anything we post with an image is guaranteed to the get more love than either text or video.  It takes the lowest amount of effort from the reader to take in the information so they engage with it, which improves your reach. You can also invite readers to tag themselves and friends in photos from events. Videos are also popular but get less views from mobile than desktop. I think this maybe down to the data usage again
  • Timing. Facebook insights are a wonderful thing. They are broken down to such an extent that we can even know when our followers are online – We get a graph that averages hourly visitor numbers over days  - but we can also see data for each day of the week which allows us to post when potentially the most people are online to reach the widest audience possible.
  • Don’t post repetitive content - if we want to re-share something – we reword it or post content with a different photograph so that facebook can see your making an effort to share something new.
  • Don’t spam.

I don’t deny it’s frustrating to have put the effort in to build and audience of over 6000 to only reach a third of them. But in the short term a third of 6000 is still 2000 more people to connect with than if Facebook didn’t exist and in the long term hopefully as Facebook filtering gets better and spammy pages are penalized by following these rules the relevant, informative pages will see their reach stabilise, or increase.

More links and things we’ve been up to: Care Data and some other stuff

Posted on 21st March 2014 by

The end of Stirchley Community Centre and some fab social reporting.

We’ve been working to get local volunteers and local officers sharing the changes around Stirchley Baths.  A couple of peopl we taught with out social media surgeries di some cracking social reporting of the last days of the Stirchley Community Centre (closed down because of a Tesco development and being moved to the Stirchley baths site when the work there is done:

Here a link with plenty of videos from Stirchley.   And here’s a video of the Stirchley Stitchers created by the brilliant Jess Allen – who’s natural social reporter.

Bishops Castle and Household Energy, homeless young people and women in Wolverhampton!

Steph has been all over this week – helping out some people starting a social enterprise in Bishops Castle – the Household Energy Service -  and also a group of women as part of the work we’ve been doing with Women of Wolverhampton.    Lloyd Davis has been an loved extension of Podnosh with our work with the Foyer Federation in Stratford,  East London.  Some young people in the E15 Foyer have started a site about life in East London (after a good discussion about ways to build stronger relationships with the local community and potential employers) – although we’ve still to crack the business of getting them publishing between out visits!.

Friends of Brandwood End Cemetery

We worked with fbec a good while a go to help them get a site set up which gave them control over what they could publish.  We also supported them with a number of sessions of one to one help to encourage them to share useful material and share it often.  Sometimes you look away and hope things stick.  I looked back today  and can see how often they’re publishing now – simple things like a notice for the AGM – or a report on a visit from the Lord Mayor.  I wonder if they’ll be bold enough to liveblog their AGM?

How much does it cost to look after people?

Lesley Curtis of the Personal Social services Research Unit in Kent has published this research on the Unit Costs of Health and Social Care 2013>  Only available as a pdf – would be much more useful if the data were available as a spreadsheet.   Potentially useful for Paul Bradshaw’s Help Me Investigate Health.

Unit Cost of Health and Social Care 2013.