So this is how Government does social media …

I think I’ve found the perfect example of how Government approaches web communication.

On the weekend I read a story in the media about how our Foreign Minister has launched a new web app for travelers going overseas.  A great initiative.  As a regular traveler it would be a great tool.  The story went on to mention that Minister Rudd even demonstrated how the web app works with some minor celebrity – presumably a young person from reality TV.  I even saw the app being mentioned on ABC News 24.  It was legitimate news.

And if I wanted it, it would be available at their newly redeveloped web site which now has links to social media!

Excited by the prospect of an app that I think I would get some serious use out of (as a regular traveler) I went to the Smartraveller web site to download it.  I bought the sales pitch and wanted to buy the product.

So I went to the site to find the app.  Nothing.  I used their search function – nothing.  Nice redesign (the site is essentially the same) but the thing I was promised isn’t there.

So I headed to iTunes to see if it was listed there.  Nothing.  Same search results.

So now I have no app, and a reinforced view that this government is more interested in making announcements than delivering products or services.

So what are the issues here?

  • Integration: the announcement is one thing, but surely it’s only as good as the product being announced.  If you are going to tell us you’re offering a new service, at least offer the service.  Or at least – and I realize this is going to give some government people a heart attack – hold off the press release until the product is ready.
  • Using social media as a sales pitch: social media is a baseline expectation for customers.  It isn’t news.  If you are going to talk about your links with social media, tell us what we can do with it.  The fact that you are on Facebook is no big deal – there are already 500 million other people using it.
  • Redeveloping a web site isn’t the same as redesigning it.  That’s like saying you’ve renovated your home after painting it.

But the main point here is … don’t let your audiences down.  My perception of Minister Rudd and his Department is that they’re only interested in the kudos of doing things and not really interested in actually doing them.  Am I wrong?

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