We first came across Caerphilly Council's innovative use of social media in 2011. And they're still going great guns with it three years on.
Why do local authorities embrace social media? Because everyone is doing it? At Caerphilly County Borough Council we might use a cartoon sheep ‘Nev’ to encourage people to follow us, but don’t confuse us with the fluffy creatures.
We believe social media allows us a really unique opportunity to show exactly what, as a council, we’re all about – public-facing, hardworking and dedicated staff who are looking to make a real difference to the lives of our residents. We engage in open and honest dialogue because, after all, isn’t that what every person wants when they have an issue? A human to talk to?
With over 12,000 followers on our corporate Twitter and Facebook accounts, our Digital Media Officer (that’s Jayne) dreamed up #seewhatwedo as a way of showcasing one of the council’s service areas every few months.
It’s intended as a real insight into the average working day of perhaps some of the traditionally less well known, yet still vitally important services we provide as a council – and while we don’t claim that following the life of a service area for a day is unique to us, we’d undoubtedly say that our experiences and the feedback gained so far have been overwhelmingly positive.
Over the past few months, we’ve delved into the average daily lives of the council as a whole (not a small task when you consider we employ over 9,000 people), as well as a foster carer, our Public Protection team, our customer services team and our libraries service.
Most recently we decided to follow our Sport and Leisure Service, a service area which last year hired a dedicated Marketing and Communications Officer (that’s Emily).
As with all the #seewhatwedo days we’ve done so far, the aim was to demonstrate to residents the value and impact that this area of the council’s business can and does have on all areas of the community – in this instance, particularly on education, health and community safety… to name just a few.
As a council in the heart of the South Wales valleys, we’re committed to communicating bilingually with our residents. Posting comments in real time can prove difficult in ensuring everything is bilingual – but we think we managed it (except where we had bad signal at one of the leisure centres we visited).
For the Sport and Leisure Services #seewhatwedo, we used the hashtag 89 times during the build up and on the day. 28 tweets were sent out on the day resulting in almost 600,000 timeline hits. Some top tweets and mentions are below (including one from your very own Dan Slee)
We got some great feedback, including a lovely comment claiming one of our personal trainer’s looks like Mark Wahlberg! We even helped a resident with Rheumatoid Arthritis.
Facebook proves a harder nut to crack; because we don’t want to lose likes by flooding our followers’ timelines, so we use an individual thread which can mean the posts don’t get seen. However, a few significant posts were also shared on to the Sport Caerphilly and Leisure Lifestyle Facebook pages where they were seen by over 700 people.
Ultimately the #seewhatwedo hashtag aims to raise awareness of the services that we provide.
Following the day of tweeting, the Sport and Leisure Services Twitter page had 20 new followers, which is 20 more people who will now be able to see what our Sport and Leisure team do on a daily basis, not just for one day in the life of…
Emily Worthington is marketing and communications officer and Jayne Catherall is digital media officer at Caerphilly County Borough Council.
pic via Flickr Creative Commons