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Another Government Social Network May Hit The Dust

by Andrea Di Maio  |  December 3, 2008  |  1 Comment

About two months ago Transport For London  (TfL) – the government owned company running the public transportation system in London – launched a social networking site called Together For London. The purpose was to gather ideas from customers about how to make London a better place. Registered users can create an avatar (called “Little Londoner”), start and participate in discussions, and even set up a campaign. So far the site has started 113 discussions, 176 campaigns and received about 200,000 pageviews. While Transport For London claims it is too early to judge and numbers are positive, some press articles have called this a failure.

I do agree that it is probably early to draw any conclusion, but as I have said many times in my research (see How Governments Can Use Social Networks, login required), social networks that are initiated by government are unlikely to be as successful as those initiated by the public. I bet that, in the long run, customer groups started in social networks such as Facebook will become more compelling and influential than anything TfL can come up with. The intent is certainly noble, but I’m afraid there is little that governments can do to be seen as creators of places to “socialize”.

Questions to ask in this case are:

  • what is the compelling event that should make this attractive to customers, and
  • why should they remain compelled to participate (what my collegue Anthony Bradley calls “magnetism” of a community).

In absence of clear answers, this network may have a difficult life.

Category: social-networks-in-government  

Tags: transportation  web-20  

Andrea Di Maio
Managing VP
15 years at Gartner
28 years IT industry

Andrea Di Maio is a managing vice president for public sector in Gartner Research, covering government and education. His personal research focus is on digital government strategies strategies, Web 2.0, open government, cloud computing, the business value of IT, smart cities, and the impact of technology on the future of government Read Full Bio

Thoughts on Another Government Social Network May Hit The Dust

  1. Laurie B says:

    Good post. I have always questioned why a user would come to a government social network site if there was a similar site on Facebook or Twitter? I just don’t believe a government-created
    social network site would be as free and open and creative…

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