Home > Social medai, Strategic public relations > Live chats: One-year report

Live chats: One-year report

Social media is all about two-way communication and relationship building. The live online chat can contribute toward that objective.

At the Hamilton County Department of Job and Family Services, we’ve been offering live chats with program experts for a year. Our main goal is to relieve pressure on our overburdened phone lines and crowded waiting rooms. We’re seeing increased numbers of customers at a time of staff layoffs, so any relief is much appreciated by our customers and staff.

Every week or two, people with questions, concerns or ideas can chat with a JFS expert about a topic such as child support, Medicaid, food stamps, cash assistance, services for job seekers and employers, adoption and foster care, child care or child abuse.

We average about 12 individuals per chat and 20 questions in each hour-long chat. Some draw as many as 28 participants; some none. It depends mostly on the topic.

All of the chats end up getting more than 100 views within a week or so. And that number contines to climb because we offer an archive of previous chats, which ends up becoming a Frequently Asked Questions section.

Clients who participate in the chats really like the direct access and quick response. We have had great success helping people better understand how to access our services. Many are in need of public assistance for the first time due to the economic downturn. They’re not familiar with the basics.

We publicize the chats with traditional media releases, online newsletter articles, mentions during community presentions and social media, mainly Twitter and Facebook. Our director mentions them on her blog.

Overall, we’ve been pleased with the chats. They’re a worthwhile component in our external communication strategy.

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