While I haven’t had a lot of opportunity to update my blog, I manage to snag free moments here and there to keep up on Twitter. Turns out the City of Calgary is on twitter. The challenge of course is how the City will choose to interact with Calgarians through social media. There isn’t a whole lot of precedent out there, but they’ve made a start. The first social media stumbling block they’ve run into is the ‘custom’ of ‘following back’ on Twitter.
The theory is that it’s considered rude to not follow back when someone follows you. Frankly, I don’t do it often myself unless it’s someone who’s actually involved themselves in a conversation with me. A great deal of the follows I get are kind of, or outright, spammy in nature. For the City of Calgary, they have slightly different challenges, some of which they try and address here.
One of the significant items they barely touch on….
Then there’s the question of where to draw the line, or even how to draw the line. If The City follows one citizen, or one alderman, or one Member of Legislative Assembly, then to be fair, we’d probably have to follow every citizen, alderman, etc.
To put that into a bit of perspective, Calgary has over 1,000,000 citizens. I currently follow just over 300, and there’s no way in heck I keep up with that information flow. The idea that the City of Calgary could follow 1,000,000 is ludicrous. I doubt there’s a twitter client out there that would even handle that. Or half that. Or even a quarter of that.
Interesting factoid – The maximum number of Twitter users you can follow in a single day is 1000. Which means it would take over 1000 days to follow every citizen of Calgary, or nearly 3 years.
Of course, it would also be ludicrous to assume every Calgarian was on Twitter. According to some rough stats, there are about 7468 tweeps that can be identified as Calgarian. As I noted earlier though, I have a hard time keeping up with 300.
Here are the rest of the stats for November 2009:
# of tweets by local users: 314583
# of tweets by local users containing #yyc: 8078 (2.6%)
# of tweets by local users that were replies: 101430 (32.2%)
# of tweets by local users containing links: 83106 (26.4%)
# of tweets by local users that were retweets: 19614 (6.2%)
# of tweets by local users that were twooshes: 10867 (3.5%)
That’s a lot of tweeting to try and keep track of, a great deal of which is not going to be of interest to the City of Calgary. And with the privacy laws they are governed by, protecting and storing tweets that contain identifiable information also becomes a non-trivial task.
For myself, I’d definitely like to see the City of Calgary become more active, and more involved with the whole #yyc crowd. The question is what form should that take? It’s far too easy to take potshots at the City of Calgary, and we need to move away from that and start providing them with feedback, not just unhappy criticism. What do we as citizens of Calgary want to see from our city on the social media front? Do we want them to provide a service? Play the part of friendly sounding board? Offer 3-1-1 style services in an automated response fashion to direct questions on twitter? Be a repository and clearing house for issues and complaints that can be fed forward to other departments?
Heck, should those other departments be on twitter as well? What kind of interaction would we want to see from, say, the Calgary Roads department? Or what about @CalgaryPolice? That one becomes even trickier, and they *do* have an account on twitter.
I think there is a lot of discussion to be had between Calgarians and the City of Calgary. So lets do that.