Promoting the census with social media
4th January 2011
I had a meeting at the end of last year with a colleague who is working on promoting this year’s census. The census collects data that a lot of government funding is based on (as well as being an opportunity for deeply conformist types to think they are sticking it to the man) and so councils are obviously keen to ensure that as many people fill it in as possible. This year’s census is the first one that can be completed online, which is one reason why my colleague was interested in how she might promote it through social media
Birmingham, in particular, has a lot of demographic groups that have had a low rate of return in the past. These include: young people (under 35); people with Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Caribbean or African heritage; young professionals; students; people who are the heads of lone families and people living in inner city wards. So the two of us sat down and came up with a few ideas about how we could reach people from though social media, and especially from these groups. Our ideas included:-
Run a Twitter account. Ok, so not groundbreaking and radical, but we thought that an account that put out interesting facts about censuses, modern and historic, UK and worldwide might attract some interest and could then be used to encourage people to fill in their form.
Set up a Facebook page or group for Birmingham Census.
Approach people who already have established networks online. This came out of us wondering if many people would be interested in joining a “Birmingham Census 2011″ group and whether it would be better to ask people with established groups to spread the message for us.
Following this I instigated a discussion on Twitter about the same subject. Unfortunately I didn’t save that anywhere, which is a lesson for me to learn for the future. But from memory there was some support for the latter idea. This was mainly from people who are bloggers saying that they would be happy to promote the census for us. I asked if people would appreciate something prepared by us to make it easier for them and the answer was yes. This would obviously be subject to people changing the words as they see fit to suit the style of their blog.
There was a suggestion that we use foursquare, although we were a little unsure how that might work. On reflection, I wonder if we could identify places in Birmingham that are already venues, that might be used by the groups we are targeting and have a high number of check-ins. I had a quick look on foursquare and the AMC Cinema on Ladywood Middleway has had over 400 check-ins for example.
Now, I just need to come up with a way of promoting the census through foursquare venues. I’d be interested in the views of people who use it on how this might be done.
And that leads me to the point of this post. How would you promote the census through social media? Do you know of anybody who is already doing this well? Or maybe you’ve run a different campaign whose ideas could be adapted.