While Victorian citizens are evidently very active and engaged digitally, the question remains as to whether they are willing and interested in engaging government online.
The Victorian Government Social Media Analysis report39 from nmincite provides some guidance.
Conducted over the period 15/12/2010 – 15/12/2011, this analysis reported on unprompted citizen discussion regarding the Victorian Government and its agencies in social media. The report was designed to measure the level of citizen social media discussion and build an understanding of citizen mindsets.
The report found that of 5,810 messages discussing the Victorian Government and its agencies, 51 per cent were neutral in sentiment, 20 per cent positive and 25 per cent negative, with 4 per cent of mixed sentiment.
It also found that government news announcements were a trigger for online citizen conversations, with the dominant discussion platforms including Twitter and forums. Facebook rated quite low in comparison.
Common topics of discussion included the Victorian Government and economy (53 per cent), followed by health and community (31 per cent), with environment and water and law and justice following (both on 19 per cent) (refer to the full chart next page).
Besides topics related specifically to the Victorian Government, a number of programs and processes were regularly discussed by the public, with citizens displaying a broad mix of opinions and perspectives.
The report noted that Victorian Government news announcements could generate considerable discussions on both mainstream social media sites (such as Twitter and Facebook), as well as in niche sites.
It recommended that agencies monitor both broad and niche discussions, with particular attention to niche citizen groups to understand their concerns and points of view and whether there were legitimate issues that needed consideration and to be addressed.
The Victorian Government Social Media Analysis also highlighted that the Victorian Government and its agencies appeared to be innovative in their use of social media, with a particular note that content appeared to be up-to-date, relevant and presented in an appropriate manner for the audiences.
Of Victorians engaging their state government online, 100 per cent felt the engagement useful.
illingness to engage online
AGIMO’s Interacting with Government report for 2011 indicated that 100 per cent of Victorians engaging with state government online felt the engagement was useful, compared to 95 per cent of Victorians engaging with Commonwealth government in the same manner.
Online (including e-government services) was the largest channel used by Victorians to contact state government agencies, accounting for slightly over one-third of contacts. Online was also the leading channel for Victorians to contact Commonwealth and State agencies, though to a slightly lesser degree.
Victorian government websites are highly regarded by most citizens and considered easy to use compared to other government sites.
itizen views of Victorian government websites
Victorians regarded websites produced by the state government highly.
Victorian state government websites were regarded as equivalent to Commonwealth sites in terms of content currency. When compared against NSW and Queensland state government sites, the Victorian government performed marginally poorer, with an ‘Excellent’ rating of 88 per cent versus 89 per cent for the other states.
Ease of use
Victorian state government sites were regarded as by far the easiest government sites to use by Victorians, with 75 per cent indicating they were excellent, while residents only considered 57 per cent of Commonwealth and 50 per cent of local government sites as excellent.
In comparison to other large states, only 44 per cent of Queensland residents felt their state government sites were excellent in ease of use, compared to 68 per cent for New South Wales and the aforementioned 75 per cent for Victoria.
Again Victorian government sites were rated highly by Victorians as ‘helping to get thing done quickly’ online, a key performance metric for websites where user patience is measured in seconds rather than days. 63 per cent of Victorian residents gave an excellent rating to state sites, compared to 54 per cent for Commonwealth and 50 per cent for local government sites.
Victorian state government sites performed well against Queensland state government sites (at 44 per cent), however NSW state government sites (at 68 per cent) were regarded more highly, but with a greater spread of views. 100 per cent of respondents considered Victorian state government sites excellent or good at helping residents get things done, compared to a total of 86 per cent of NSW residents for NSW state government sites.
This was the weakest area for Victorian state government sites, with Victorians rating Commonwealth sites more highly at 62 per cent indicating they were excellent, compared to state sites at 50 per cent.
Residents of NSW and Queensland both viewed their state government’s websites as better designed to help find information than Victorians rated their own state government sites.
In Queensland, 67 per cent of residents indicated their state sites were excellent, compared to 57 per cent of NSW residents and only 50 per cent of Victorians.
Designed for all kinds of people
The Victorian government rated highly in this area (63 per cent), compared to how Victorians rated local (36 per cent) and Commonwealth (39 per cent) sites and compared to ratings given by residents of other large states to their state government’s sites, QLD (44 per cent) and NSW (39 per cent).