Step 2: Do your research

It's important to understanding the digital landscape, including your own digital footprint. The best communications plans and campaigns are rooted in robust research data which is used to shape strategy and tactics.

With the development of digital channels over the past 10 years, and the range of data resources providing detailed metrics, we've never had access to more analytics to help us achieve our communications and engagement objectives.

It's key to understand the digital landscape which you are operating in. The national context can be framed by resources such as the Ofcom communications market report. This annually published report provides helpful insights into the way in which UK citizens use and access all of the major communications channels including the internet and social media. This detailed 400+ page report is broken down into individual countries in the UK.

The Ofcom report also provides data on broadband and 4G access, which can be important to inform internal debates where there can be a belief that some areas have poor access. Using this data – and taking opinion out of internal conversations – can be helpful in ensuring fit for purpose plans. For example, the Ofcom data shows that 97.8 per cent of the UK now has access to 4G and 86 per cent of homes now have internet access. Add to that the fact that 71 per cent of adults own a smartphone and 59 per cent of homes own a tablet and it's clear that large chucks of citizens are, in theory, accessible via social media if we work smart and use the data to ensure sound strategies are deployed.

Top tip – map your own digital landscape to inform your activity

To help inform your decision-making on social media and digital strategies - and to inform internal debates around which are the best communications tactics to use on campaigns and plans - having your own landscape mapped is a real advantage. Councils like Birmingham and Wyre have done this...



...which have helped them to make judgements based on data rather than what a service area may push for.