Integrating digital and social media

The story so far…

The Digital Communications Capability Review took a long hard look at the way government does digital communications. Three respected external reviewers told us that while there are pockets of excellence in government communications, in orderfor government communications to be digital by default, we all need to raise our game to be as digital as possible.

They created a digital manifesto, which spells out what we expect of all communicators. It also details the level of support you can expect from your departments, and more widely from GCS.

This gave three guiding principles for how we should place digital at our core:

  1.  To keep up with the way information is accessed, digital communication in government should be a core skill for all, not a specialist area. Digital communication skills must include a firm grasp of planning, objective setting and measurement/insights.
  2. Communications leaders, digital leaders and GDS must work more closely together – a more collaborative approach is needed to get the most out of GOV.UK and other GDS services.
  3. We mustn’t let a risk-averse culture block innovative and impactful digital comms – attitudes to risk need to be balanced, pragmatic and informed by business need.

The recommendations of the review have been taken forward into one of the GCS change programmes to make sure we remain up to date and relevant with our skills, structure and approach.

Read more about the review of departmental digital. (PDF, 68kb)

The vision

Directors of Communication have worked with digital leaders to work on the strategic vision of what embedding digital and social media should look like across government.

Government communication must have digital at its core as it’s an essential way to inform, plan, deliver and measure activity. Government communicators should have confidence in using digital technology and methods to:

  • gain insight into our audiences
  • develop the best ideas
  • implement plans
  • provide maximum impact

Read the full guide to our digital vision. (PDF, 68kb)

Sharing good practice

One of the best ways to gain confidence and competence in digital is to take advice and inspiration from some good practice that has been established around your department, wider government and social media. Good practice should be looked at as an approach and a mindset rather than a medium or channel. This is because digital is capable of achieving a wide range of objectives.

The Social Media Playbook is a good starting point for communicators. Created by the Government Digital Service, it gives a range of inspiring examples and tried and tested ways of communicating in the best possible way.

The Open Internet Tools guide is another useful guide for civil servants.  These free tools can help you to communicate, plan, organise and collaborate in your everyday work.

You can read a broader guide to creating impact on digital and social media  (PDF, 344kb) in this document by Marisol Grandon at the Department for International Development (DFID).

GCS Change Programme

The integration of digital and social media into all government communication is a key part of the Government Communication Service. There are several projects that are taking place to ensure everyone understands the requirements for success.

Digital objective for all

We need to embed digital working in our everyday professional lives. With this in mind, Directors of Communication have mandated that all communications staff across central government departments will have a digital objective from April 2014. People will be assessed against these objectives at their year-end appraisals. We have created a toolkit that helps managers and individuals create meaningful and constructive digital objectives. Find out more in Setting digital objectives for government communicators. (PDF, 102kb)

Creating impact online

Good digital and social media practice can vary enormously across departments and what you are trying to achieve. We need to learn through understanding the approach taken by communication teams across Whitehall and beyond.

The Government Digital Service has created the Social Media Playbook. This guide sets out the approach to running effective communication and community management online. We will continue to add other examples of good practice from around government. This will help us learn from each other and create even more effective and impactful content.

Identify skills gaps and develop training

Digital tools and techniques are evolving and developing rapidly, so training needs to be regularly updated to keep pace. We are currently assessing the digital and social media offerings on Civil Service Learning. This is with a view to ensuring that the best training and development opportunities are on offer to communication professionals. Based on recommendations made, Civil Service Learning will be ensuring its training in digital and social media is relevant and of sufficiently high quality. This could include adding new training courses if necessary.

To test your own digital capability and get some useful hints and advice about what areas of your digital skillset you can improve, GCS has created an online Digital Skills Assessment tool. It’s in a Beta, meaning we are still making improvements, but it should give an indication of your level of capability.

Read the full plan for improving digital capability. (PDF, 554kb)

Evaluative approach

Evaluation is as important for digital as it is for any other sort of communication activity. Digital metrics are an important part of measuring the reach and impact of many communication activities.