I recently attended what was billed as a Mini Cake Camp*. Essentially it was a chance to meet informally with local gov comms colleagues from the Midlands and eat cake. The plan was for each of us to take five minutes to describe something that’s worked well for us and five minutes to suggest an opportunity for collaboration in the spirit of last winter’s #wmgrit .

Not suprisingly, with such innovative comms chums in attendance, the topic soon moved to the deployment of social media. Early adopters have spent a great deal of time ‘selling’ the benefits of social media to sometimes sceptical colleagues. We’ve tried using stats and case studies and stretched the potential of PowerPoint to the max. But one idea emerged that afternoon that appealed to me; A Price List of Wasted Effort.

I recall being at a village hall somewhere in Shropshire with a dozen representatives from across the public sector each of us standing beside our table mounted display on the subject of something or other and waiting in anticipation for the doors to open and the grateful locals to rush in and engage in enthusiastic debate around the topic of something or other. It was two hours in, and with only three residents interested enough to step through the portal (Sound familiar?), that I began to imagine what the combined hourly rate of the attending officers would amount to. And whether, once that figure were divided by the number of residents that attended that day, it represented a respectable ROI.

I’m not knocking public meetings or open days per se but I am asking if there’s an argument for engaging in  advance of the event and gauging in some way the likelihood of anyone turning out.

And public meetings are only the tip of the iceberg. There are many traditional forms of communication that we slavishly follow with no means of measuring their success and all of these cost money. So as well as defending/promoting/advocating social media, maybe we could also spend a little time productively calculating that cost; A Price List of Wasted Effort. Just a thought.

* attending the Mini Cake Camp were the excellent @Paulcoxon81 @katebentham@danslee @meljpotter @darrencaveney