The #ukhousing social media community has been very active lately around subject of social housing branding and messaging.
Do people ‘get’ social housing? Is the sector communicating the right information in the right ways? Does social housing need to find a Richard Branson?
From a social media standpoint, #ukhousing is making more impact than ever before. There are more people participating, increased numbers of influencers in the space and some great examples of housing organisations using multiple channels to create content. But what difference does it make, and is there scope for further raising the sector’s game? Our consultant Kerry James listened into the conversation…
Analysing #ukhousing Twitter talk
A while back, we thought it might be interesting to look at how UK housing people use Twitter. Cue one week in summer 2012 analysing every tweet that carried the #ukhousing hashtag – who tweeted, when, and how positively they represented the sector.
Only a snapshot, granted; but some interesting patterns emerged. Things like peak times for housing people to tweet, the balance of gender involvement, most influential profiles (@GuardianHousing take a bow) and related topics and hashtags – the equivalent of Amazon’s ‘if you liked this, you might also be interested in…’ A link to an infographic of the results is shown below.
So what, you may wonder. Is this still relevant? Hasn’t the sector moved on? Well, yes and no. What’s interesting is how specific topics are gaining traction, much more than last year.
2013: battle of the hashtags
For example, a quick look at the term #ukhousing on Topsy this morning showed that:
- There have been over 4,200 tweets over the past 30 days
- @GuardianHousing and @jrf_uk are still the most prominent sector influencers.
But let’s not stop there. How about trying a ‘battle of the hashtags’ – comparing a series of popular topics against the ‘parent’ #ukhousing tag adopted by the sector?
This is where things start to get really interesting. Clearly #bedroomtax is kicking #ukhousing into touch at the time of writing this post, if you look at the simple figures. With more than three times the tweets in the past 30 days and significantly more videos than its counterpart, there’s a topic with traction. Go a little deeper and look at the momentum of key stories around the sector, and #welfarereform wins the tussle of the themes.
So what difference does all this make?
If there’s a shared desire for #ukhousing to have a united voice and an enhanced sector positioning, we need to nail the basics. That means understanding:
- Why housing organisations are are in the space – being clear about ‘PR vs engagement’ aspirations and acknowledging that some individuals and organisations may be expected to prove an outcome, return or feelgood factor to justify continued investment
- How housing organisations are seeing tangible benefits and results that can be captured and contribute to wider sector campaigns, good practice and results (lives changed, cash into the sector, money saved through shared learning and so on)
- What the key and emerging #ukhousing themes could be for a given period and why (such as #bedroomtax, #homelessness, and #development) – agreed at top-level and signed-up to by membership bodies, policy leaders and influencers, this offers scope to build themed networks of specialist influence
- Who the natural influencers for those themes are likely to be – and how far they may be willing/able to act as sector spokespeople as well as fulfilling organisational and personal objectives.
Ultimately, without a broad vision for #ukhousing’s ‘story’ and what a good result looks like, there will just be more noise. So with #nhfcomms13 in action today, let’s hope the calls to action are strong and the outlook unfailingly positive.