Research shows that 70% of parents feel they need advice and support in their parenting role, yet many are unaware that services exist or have difficulty accessing those services. Shropshire Council’s Family Information Service (FIS) offers free impartial information, advice and support on all aspects of family life.
The FIS work to expand the ways that parents can gain access to the quality information they need to support them in their role as parents. In April 2012 the FIS launched a Google+ account to explore new technologies; to complement other social media channels used by the FIS (Facebook, Twitter and Blog) and to build on the work the service already does with social media.
The FIS became the first Family Information Service to Launch on Google+ and was also the first frontline service within the local authority to do so. There was much anticipation with Google+ and many were waiting to see whether it would enjoy the same successes as other social networking sites. The FIS wanted to trail blaze this network, especially as during the research the FIS undertook into the features and functionality to consider its potential, the statistics showed that the highest proportion of users were male. The FIS saw this as a good route through which to support and converse with Dads.
Approximately only 8% of current service users to the FIS are Dads, and the information they came to us for was very different to Mums, so we wanted to make sure information on Google+ reflected this and we frequently post information which we knew would specifically appeal to Dads.
We also changed the tone of the posts, still keeping it relatively informal and friendly but including the occasional ‘High five’ and ‘Pat on the back’. The account is also managed by the only male in the FIS.
The FIS has recently set up a ‘Community’ on Google+ exploring the new features and developments as they are introduced and to facilitate conversations and discussions, alongside providing information.
Since launching the FIS account, many other national children, young people or family services have also set up Google+ accounts which offer the chance for wider networking and information gathering.
Kate blogs here.