Digital MPs

Managing the digital postbag

Social media has opened up new ways for constituents to contact their MP, and many are taking advantage of it. We reviewed our offices’ processes and created guidance for MP teams on how to manage communications arriving via different platforms.

Many constituents get in touch with their MPs on their social media accounts, despite being directed to the email address for more formal enquiries. Between May 2015 and June 2016, one of our MPs has received 177 direct messages on Facebook. Thirty-one of these were cases which required investigation.

One office had an effective system which used the following steps each morning to manage incoming correspondence:

  • Check MP inbox.
  • Check staff folders for emails placed there by the MP overnight.
  • Filter emails that haven’t been filed for action.
  • Place campaign emails (for example, 38degrees/ in a specific folder.
  • Remove spam and junk emails.
  • Proceed with tasks.

The casework management system is linked to the MP’s email inbox and outbox so copies of letters can be saved automatically and transferred into the software for record keeping.

The office also uses blanket template letters, collaborative documents that can be viewed and approved by staff in both parliamentary and constituency offices, a built-in third party and ministerial contact list, and a process for filtering and forwarding cases to government departments, bodies and individuals.

We recommend:

  • regularly monitoring social media inboxes, building the task into existing daily routines
  • being clear to constituents about the best way to contact an MP, when they can expect a reply and what information is required
  • listing the email address of the MP in the biography of their social media accounts
  • adding information to a checklist or FAQ section on the MP’s website and a pinned social media post outlining how casework is dealt with and which cases go where