On Thursday 6 October 2011 the Prime Minister of Australia, Julia Gillard, hosted the Future Jobs Forum. Easily labelled a talk-fest, the event failed to leverage social media which could have enabled it to have built community engagement around plans and actions which would have dampened the “talk-fest” critics. Instead, as it turned out, the most active influencer in the social media was a hardened critic of the government.

Top Influencer was Negative

The Forums actions were noble enough:

A focus of the forum will be how we can drive sectors further up the value chain – fostering business innovation, making use of digital technologies, accessing new export markets and improving workforce development.

Each of those strategies with respect to the value chain could have been actively promoted and built upon if a community-driven social media plan had been developed and deployed. Furthermore, we know that future jobs and those “future people” e.g. younger people, are seeking to engage with employers on their own terms – and that means through messaging, Facebooking, social media, and quick fast connections (the new meaning of “friends”). We also know that progessive firms such as Rio Tinto, are reaching out to graduates and young recruits with great success by using modern social media-oriented community tools, like Telligent. The government missed an opportunity to turn the Forum into a constructive event which engaged with all stakeholders, and which left an ongoing legacy of engagement leading to measured and positive change an actions.

Social Media Activity

Instead, here is what we did see in the social media. No pre nor post-Forum activity, and very little during the Forum with the exception of the rush of stories in the news media – 86 twitter mentions over the whole period. Future Jobs Forum MentionsThe top Influencer about the Forum, on blogs, was a vehement critic of the government (putting aside the news media). Future Jobs Forum Top Influencers BlogsOn Twitter, ironically the Top Influencer was the Prime Minister herself, because of the deficit of interest from anyone else. So that was useful getting content out into the social media, but resulted in zero engagement. Future Jobs Forum Top Influencers TwitterThe Buzzgraph was dominated by powerbrokers, personalities and manufacturers – are these the key jobs of the future? Future Jobs Forum BuzzgraphAnd finally, although there was precious little social media activity, the keywords show what dominated conversation in the social media and the news forums – nothing too forward looking in these keywords. Future Jobs Forum KeywordsWhat was really lost?So what is it that was really lost? Perhaps this was a deliberate strategy of not engaging in the name of “allowing everyone to speak freely”. That’s Politburo-speak for keeping things in the club – it’s not unusual and may have been the case here. But for whatever reason there were opportunities lost:

  1. The opportunity to maintain the conversation
  2. The opportunity to engage on common ground with those who are the players in “future jobs”
  3. The opportunity to leverage the investment in the Forum to bring about plans and actions down the track to to shape the next such forum.

What do you think was the biggest opportunity lost by the Future Jobs Forum not engaging the community, and in social media? Walter @adamson