Social media at heart of new 10 Downing Street website

Earlier this week, the UK Prime Minister’s main website (www.Number10.gov.uk) was relaunched. We’ve seen recently that that Number 10 has been experimenting with the use of Twitter to send updates (follow them here) and the use of YouTube to answer questions from the public (see the YouTube channel here). The new website places social media at its core and is again an example of how the UK Government is trying new things in social media before many corporates.

The website is built on WordPress, and that should be the first indication of its mission and aim. News items look like blog posts and the feel of the site is much more social than the previous version (which felt like a traditional corporate site). When we talk about online communities at FreshNetworks, we talk about issue-centred navigation with calls to action. This kind of layout is typical of social sites, and even though the new Number10 site isn’t a community in the way that we would understand it, it does use this issue-based, call-to-action approach. The options you have are a mix of editorial content (News and History) with more social content (communicate, Meet the PM and Number 10 TV). For the user there is no distinction between the two types of content - they are presented equally and side-by-side.

This is also seen in the way the site pulls in feeds from Flickr, and Twitter on the homepage. This has the dual benefit of bringing a constantly changing source of media for the site and meaning that all the previous social media activities are being brought together.

So, do these changes mean that the site is a success? The answer is obviously not clear-cut. The building-blocks are now in place for a great, social portal into the Prime Minister’s office. The mix of editorial and social content and the use of media and feeds means that people will feel more like insiders. The website is less a place people go to to find out information and more one where they go to interact. This development is to be encouraged. The real sign of success will be how the site is managed, whether content is actively and continually created, whether the Flickr albums will update frequently and, ultimately the levels of user-interaction that are allowed. Giving people that feeling of being an insider is great; they will now want to talk to you directly.

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  1. FreshNetworks Blog » Blog Archive » Russian President Dmitry Medvedev launches video blog:

    [...] written in the past about the way’s Gordon Brown is using YouTube and the role of social media in govenment websites in the UK, and of course the role social media played in Obama’s campaign in the US. [...]

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