Why you should attend the Social Media for Government Conference in Ottawa

For the past three years, I’ve had the privilege of chairing the Social Media for Government Conference in Ottawa. And I’ll be chairing the next conference to be held in just one month, from June 21 to June 24.

A great learning experience

This conference is an opportunity to learn about how social media is being used by government and to discuss the challenges and opportunities it presents.

Speakers from all levels of government – federal, provincial and municipal – will be sharing their experience with social media and the insight they gained. Organizations presenting case studies include: Public Safety Canada, Alberta Environment, Army Public Affairs, the U.S. Department of State,  the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, the Office of the Ontario Ombudsman, the Public Service Commission of Canada, the Ottawa Public Library,  the Canadian Internet Registration Authority, Norfolk County and the cities of London and Ottawa.

I’ll be speaking as well. On the day before the conference proper, I’ll be presenting a Social Media 101 Workshop and on the first morning of the conference, I’ll be co-presenting with Pierre Killeen about public engagement in the age of social media.

Save $400 off the registration fee for the Social Media for Government Conference

If you’ve read this far, it’s fair to say that you’re interested in learning about the adoption of social media by government. So, here’s a great offer.

People who registered for the conference before April 30 were eligible for an Early Bird Discount of $400. But April 30 has come and gone and that discount has expired. That’s the bad news.

Now the good news. Just mention my name when you register for the Social Media for Government Conference and you’ll receive a $400 discount off the registration fee. That’s the equivalent of the Early Bird Registration – and you can use my discount right up to conference day. It doesn’t expire.

Why I attend the Social Media for Government Conference

I chair and participate in this conference as a volunteer. I do it because it’s one of the best learning opportunities available to me in Ottawa.

Based on my experience over the past three years, I know you won’t regret attending this conference. You’ll learn a lot and meet some smart people. What more could you ask for?

Social Mediators 4 – Social Media in Government and Automated Sentiment Analysis

In this week’s episode of Social Mediators, Terry Fallis, Dave Fleet and I talk about government and social media as well as the measurement of sentiment in social media.

Terry suggests that government departments seem to be lagging government agencies, with their narrower focus and specific mandates. Government has found it difficult to leave shed the command and control approach to management. And this holds them back from engaging in the give and take of social media. Dave offers, “Social media is really built on trust and that’s something that is lacking in government.” Terry adds, “Government often moves in geological time and it’s hard to move into social media in that environment.”

We also talk about machine measurement of sentiment in social media. Dave feels that the tools aren’t up to scratch. He offers props to the approach taken by Radian6, who offer automated sentiment measurement, but counsel that it’s just a starting point and that most organizations will want to add a layer of human review to any critical analyses.

We conclude the episode with the idea of running a comparative test of the automated sentiment solutions offered by Radian6 and Sysomos.

Organizations and people mentioned in this episode:

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner

The Ombudsman of Ontario

Parks Canada

Genome Alberta and Mike Spears

Nick Charney

Ralph Mercer

Advanced Learning Institute‘s Conference on Social Media in Government



Memo to Jim Flaherty: Please don't make it harder to manage through this recession

At Thornley Fallis and 76design, our payroll costs routinely run at about 60% of our topline revenues. That means that 60 cents of every dollar we receive for our services goes directly to create jobs. Good jobs. Jobs that employ creative people. Jobs that employ knowledge workers. Workers who help companies – and government – use the new social media to create communities of interest, accelerate knowledge sharing and get closer to the people they serve.

So, I was dismayed to read the following section in Finance Minister James Flaherty’s November 27 Economic Statement:

“There will be no free ride for anyone else in government either.

“We are directing government ministers and deputy ministers from every single department and agency of the Government to rein in their spending on travel, hospitality, conferences, exchanges and professional services.

“This includes polling, consultants and external legal services.”

Consulting. That’s me and my industry. The government contracts with knowledge workers as consultants. So, are we about to be on the chopping block? Does Minister Flaherty think that we are some kind of bureaucratic boondoggle?

When I read Finance Minister Flaherty’s statement, I fear that he and the government are failing to see the value of the economic activity our industry generates.

Clearly, he doesn’t understand:

  • the economic efficiency of our industry in creating jobs,
  • how important government is to our industry as one of the largest communicators in the country,
  • how communicating with Canadians to restore confidence is essential to the economic recovery, and
  • how government spending on communications not only is part of the solution in getting past the recession panic, but will also enable our industry to maintain employment levels.

Does Minister Flaherty understand that if he takes a broadsword to consulting contracts, he will be killing jobs – lots of jobs – at a time when we should be trying to sustain employment?

The Department of Finance announced last Thursday that it is conducting online consultations in advance of the January 26 budget.

This is my submission.

Mr. Flaherty, please don’t pull the rug out from under knowledge workers with one hand while with the other you are seeking to build up infrastructure.

Yes, please do invest in extending broadband Internet access so that more people can have access to the benefits of the Net. (And while you’re at it, please encourage innovation by supporting net neutrality.)

But while you are pouring dollars into building roads, bridges, buildings and bandwidth, please don’t undercut the knowledge workers whom you are counting on to use that infrastructure to create jobs in the future.

People like me are trying to preserve jobs for knowledge workers.

We aren’t getting any free ride. We help government to connect with Canadians. And we also help you to listen to what Canadians are saying. We are also very efficient at creating jobs. Jobs right here in Canada.

We count on you and our government to be wise and to legislate in the public interest. So, please take a closer look at small business and industries like mine before you act. I think you’ll find that it makes sense to provide us with stability, not the back of your hand.

And if you provide us with a stable environment, I’m sure you’ll find that we do our part. And isn’t that really how we’ll get through the recession? If everyone does their part?