Sharing knowledge and skills

In our, Better Statistics, Better Decisions strategy; it states that ‘we must retain and develop skills, while adopting creative solutions where it makes sense to do so – such as developing partnerships’. With this in mind, building relationships with other government departments, particularly those that share statistics on social media, helps us share information and skills.

On Wednesday 2nd March, statisticians from the Department for Transport (DfT) visited Newport to chat to the Government Statistical Service (GSS) Good Practice Team, ONS social media team and Jamie Jenkins (one of our tweeting statisticians). They wanted to meet with us before the launch of the @DfTstats Twitter account.

Nick Woodhill planed the day; including a quick overview of the GSS social media journey and the approach other government departments take promoting statistical releases. Nick also explained how the GSS’s social media presence fits into the wider work of the Presentation and Dissemination Committee.

The ONS social media team ran a show and tell session in the morning and a question and answer session after lunch. We mainly chatted about what makes good content and how to measure success.

Some key information they found useful included our style guide and character limits for tweets with images, tweets with links etc. Here are the character limits:

  • 140 characters
  • 116 with a hyperlink
  • 92 with a hyperlink and image/s (can add up to 4 images)

Following the visit, we wanted to know if the visit was useful or not. We asked DfT three questions:

  1. What was the most helpful thing(s) about the visit?
  2. Was the length of the visit – i) about right, ii) too short, iii) too long
  3. Is there anything we could change to make it better next time?

They found all the sessions really useful and said the most useful part of the day was shadowing us (the ONS social media team) – as this gave them ideas for content and first-hand experience of how to manage a Twitter feed. They found it useful to see how ONS and wider Government Statistical Service make use of different Twitter tools and enjoyed understanding the close relationship between the social media team and press office at ONS.

They found the length of the visit about right and suggested that future sessions could be improved by seeing demonstrations on how to make graphics, infographics and GIFs for social media.

We’re pleased the feedback was so positive and that DfT endorsed our idea to offer this experience to other departments who are either looking to kick-start their own Twitter feeds or who are considering social media and would like to know more.

We’d like to offer more of these sessions to teams across the GSS developing their social media presence. So, if you’re an interested government statistician, or would like to chat, please email me!