DG INFSO turns to Facebook in its latest ‘roaming-related’ communications drive.
Back in 2005, I was on holiday on the north coast of Bretagne, listening to the BBC in my car while I waited for my wife to come back from the shops. And who showed up in my radio? Why, Martin Selmayr.
Who? Martin was (is?) the spokesman of Information Society Commissioner Viviane Reding, and I was running INFSO’s web team, so I perked up at the sound of his voice.
Now Martin was opening the campaign for what eventually became the Roaming Regulation. I didn’t know that. I was on holiday. Stupefied, I heard him declare:
“In October we’re going to launch a website that provides full details of roaming charges across Europe.”
Those may not have been his exact words, but it was enough to change my outlook towards returning to work!
In the end, we did get that site launched. It was tough – hand on heart, I think we were the only webteam inside the Commission capable of doing it, and there was no time for subcontracting – but it was worth it when I saw the data we published appearing on the BBC evening news, demonstrating the striking variability of roaming charges for UK users, and a similar thing happening on the RTBF, and France2 …
More to the point, when Mrs Reding needed to win the argument inside the Commission, she apparently brandished a graph we provided of the visitor stats. That’s the way the story goes. What I do know is that launching that subsite doubled our portal’s monthly visitor numbers. People cared, and the numbers showed it. The regulation went through. It was one of the Commission’s few good communication stories that year.
Since then the original site has morphed many times as they extended the regulation to SMS, which came into force on 1 July. To celebrate this, INFSO has just launched a Facebook Fan Page: Sea, Sun and SMS.
Clever title, for those who know their Serge. There’s also a quiz which is surprisingly non-Commission in style – I think you need to become a fan to check it out – and like all quizzes works virally, with users promoting it to their Facebook ‘friends’ both as part of the quiz workflow and through their own profile’s Wall.
A lot of people ask me if/when they should use Facebook in campaigns. My personal opinion for a long time was that Facebook is too fluffy, simplistic and superficial for most EU communications, or for stimuating a decent debate on most things.
But then I heard what remains my favourite response to that question, from Charles Crouch: go where the audience is. On that basis, Sea, Sun and SMS is probably a good example of where Facebook is an ideal platform for the Commission.
But does anyone know any other EU/Facebook examples that work? Or ones that didn’t?
PS Before you even think it: I used to work for INFSO, but I’m not any more, so I am not getting paid to promote their stuff! I worked there because I was interested in that stuff, and I still am, so now I can write about it.Mathew Lowry