Social media use in NSW government – a case study from the Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal October 30, 2012

Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal

Over the next few weeks Future Proof will be exploring social media use in government. We will be issuing a series of posts that look at how NSW government is using social media and the types of business that are being conducted on social media channels.

In particular we will be examining strategies for using recordkeeping as a support and an enabler for the key government business operations that are moving to social media channels. We want these posts to be as practical and useful as possible, so please do give us your feedback.

Our first post is a case study from the Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal (CTTT).

We would like to thank the staff of the CTTT for sharing their social media strategy and its outcomes so far with us.

The Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal

The CTTT started a multi-channel social media strategy in mid-2012.

The CTTT uses YouTube, Twitter and Facebook as part of a broad community engagement strategy.

The CTTT website contains introductory material that outlines the organisation’s social media strategy.  

The role of the CTTT

The CTTT’s enabling legislation requires it to be accessible to the community. It is the role of the CTTT to provide ‘an accessible, low-cost, quick and efficient dispute resolution service for sorting out everyday disputes relating to the supply of goods and services, and issues relating to residential property’. (Source: Introducing the CTTT)

The CTTT is the largest Tribunal in NSW, and in 2011-12 it received more than 64,000 disputes. Many of the people involved in these disputes are self represented parties who have never been in a Tribunal hearing before.
The CTTT environment is more informal than a court setting, but it can still be an anxious experience and people need to be well prepared.

The objective of the CTTT’s social media strategy

While the CTTT has extensive information on its website about preparing for hearings and hearing procedures, social media has been utilised as another mechanism for pushing this information out to clients so that they are able to effectively prepare for their tribunal experience and know what will be required of them.

Having this clear objective behind their social media strategy has helped the CTTT to keep its social media message focussed and has helped to build organisational support for the social media strategy.

The CTTT’s Executive, with the Chairperson, strongly advocated for the social media strategy. Their support was instrumental in the successful implementation of the strategy and for ensuring broad organisational support.

The CTTT is the first court or tribunal in Australia to use Facebook in combination with other social media.

How social media is being used at the CTTT

The CTTT’s first social media experience was with YouTube. The CTTT implemented its YouTube channel in December 2011. It currently has eleven videos in English describing each step involved in going to the Tribunal –  from lodging an application, preparing for the hearing, what happens at the hearing, and through to receiving a Tribunal order and its enforcement. The videos are available in English (with captions for the hearing impaired), and in five community languages. By the end of October 2012, these videos had been watched more than 12,000 times.

Since mid 2012, Twitter and Facebook have been used to start ‘conversations’ about the CTTT’s services and to raise awareness of the CTTT and its procedures.

Twitter is used primarily as a one-way mechanism and the CTTT tweets as a means of information dissemination. The tweets generally contain links to information already available on the CTTT website and the tweets provide a way of sharing this information with a new audience.

Facebook is a more interactive channel for the CTTT. The CTTT posts updates to its Facebook site and people then respond with their own comments. While the focus of most Facebook posts is educational, the CTTT has received feedback through its Facebook site on ways it can enhance its services and improve information on its website. The CTTT has found this direct feedback very useful and is looking for ways to encourage more of these kinds of conversations.

Via Facebook the CTTT has also received direct questions about its services and has also been able to facilitate conversations between members of the public. These interactions help the CTTT to correct misunderstandings people might have about its dispute resolution services.

A challenge for the CTTT is that, as an independent statutory body, it must remain impartial and must ensure that one party in a case does not have an advantage over another. A key requirement in the CTTT’s social media strategy therefore is to ensure that it does not engage in conversations about specific matters appearing before the Tribunal. Therefore, its communications are focussed on providing procedural information and responding to general enquiries. The requirement to remain impartial is reinforced in its Social Media Policy and Guidelines. Questions about specific cases are not dealt with via social media and enquirers are directed to the relevant information on the CTTT website.


The social media strategy is being driven by the CTTT’s Continous Improvement Unit. One staff member in the Communications and Education Team has primary responsibility for social media, in addition to other communications activities.

The CTTT’s You Tube videos were produced by an external production company.


Recordkeeping has emerged as a key support for the CTTT’s social media strategy. Recordkeeping has not been tacked on as a separate compliance activity but is an integrated enabler and support to the CTTT’s social media activities.

The CTTT currently plans in advance what will be tweeted and posted in the following week. Rather than separately capture each tweet and post, these plans are kept as records of the CTTT developed Twitter and Facebook content.

As it is a new corporate strategy, management in the organisation is kept informed of social media activities. Monthly reports that summarise social media activity are provided to senior managers and the CTTT Executive. These records provide another form of business intelligence and help to build corporate support for and awareness of the social media strategy.

The CTTT uses Google Analytics to generate and export reports on its levels of social media activity. These records have proven useful for trend analysis and reporting.

Manual screenshots are currently used to capture Facebook feedback and conversations. These screen shots and other social media records are stored online in a central location and are referenced for reporting and business improvement strategies.

The CTTT therefore captures a comprehensive set of records about its social media operations. It uses these to account for its social media activites internally, and as a tool to build and improve its social media strategies.

Policy frameworks

As the CTTT was the first Tribunal in Australia to start using Facebook, there were no policy or strategic frameworks it could adopt to structure their social media use.

To develop its excellent Social Media Policy, the CTTT looked at other government social media policies and adapted these to the Tribunal’s business context.

Given that the CTTT cannot allow social media to be used to comment on specific cases or court outcomes, the Use conditions on their Twitter and Facebook accounts state that any tweets or posts about specific Tribunal cases will be removed. Their social media policy also clearly states that the CTTT will use social media in specific ways and that people who wish to engage with the CTTT through social media must follow the policy and guidelines.

Social media is also incorporated into the CTTT’s high level strategic documents – including the CTTT Communications Plan 2012-2016.

The future of social media at the CTTT

The CTTT has very positive views on the future of social media for the organisation. The social media strategy is tightly aligned to the CTTT’s business objectives and the positive public response to its initial social media presence on YouTube is showing that the strategy is worthwhile.

The CTTT is currently investigating whether there is value in moving other communications and services to social media.

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