Philip Higgins and Anna McDermott, Consultation and Research Officers at Bristol City Council, offer their insights into how Bristol City Council is engaging its citizens.
Social media has changed the research game forever. Before, surveys used to be private and anonymous. But now social media is enabling everyone to become broadcasters. “Our job has become about communications as well as research,” says Philip. “We want to make it easy for people to share the fact that they’ve just taken part in a consultation with their Twitter contacts and Facebook friends. This is proving an increasingly important way of drawing in the public.”
Traditionally, researchers have discouraged people from passing on surveys to other participants, as this was seen to skew the results. However, in the new world of ‘personal broadcasters’, the council is actively looking to use people’s social media contacts to publicise their involvement in open public consultations. A growing number of Bristol’s consultations have ‘share’ buttons to make this easy for people.