We've worked with the Local Government Association on improving social media skills for local government. They're available online. We think you'll like them.
by Dan Slee
One of the great things about technology is a relentless pace of change.
If you're at the bow wave you are always looking ever forward anticipating the next steps.
It would be a huge mistake to think that everyone is at the same place.
For local government, that's certainly true of social media and digital communications. Some people get it and are cracking on. Others need some help. We have been hugely honoured to work with the Local Government Association on the Digital Councils project.
Now published this is a toolkit for people in the sector to delve into no matter where they are. It's the reality of the approach that I like. Is there a need? Certainly, the research we did said so. In the LGA / comms2point0 survey:
- 68 per cent of councils have a social media policy.
- 63 per cent of councils had less than 20 per cent of elected members using social media.
- 93 per cent thought that elected members would be using social media more.
When you set those stats against a background that more than half UK adults have a social media account, councillors need more help and not less.
If you work in local government, you forget elected members at your absolute peril. Sure, it's easier just to crack on. But I know a council's comms team in the north of England that was doing great things but were halved in a round of budget cuts by councillors who didn't really understand the good work they were doing.
Then there is the digital project that was stopped at the 11th hour 'because people round here don't use the internet.'
Are all councils using social media well? Not really. And in an era of tighter budgets it can only be a good idea to share ideas.
The Digital Councils resource is divided into three. Getting started, go further and connect. Here's something on each.
A basic guide to what social media is. Some of the basics and easily explained.
There's a section on social media myths busted. They still exist. To pretend that everyone is at the cutting edge would be quite wrong.
There's also a section on overcoming the barriers. Because they still exist in places.
There are some tasks and tools that councillors can use.
There's a checklist of things that officers can do and use.
There's a checklist for authorities on what organisations can do.
There's also some useful links and examples here.
So, setting about the Digital Councils project we and the LGA made sure the ideas that went into it were crowdsourced from across local government.
We're hugely grateful to a long list of people. Not least Carl Whistlecraft at Kirklees Council, Matt Bowsher at Dudley Council, Martin Howitt at Bristol City Council, Jo Miller chief executive at Doncaster Council, Dave McKenna of Swansea City Council, Clllr Ken Hawkins of Solihull Council, Tim Cheetham of Barnsley Council, Matthew Hulbert of Barwell Parish Council, Cllr Peter Fleming Leader of Sevenoaks Council, Cllr Alison Hernandez of Torbay Council, Cllr Andrew Cooper of Kirklees Council.
Both myself and Darren Caveney have a local government background and have been drawing-up tactics and strategy with social media since 2008. We have seven years of experience to pour into this and to see it up and running is a hugely satisfying.
We'd also say that the ideas in it are quite transferrable between different sectors, too.
Dan Slee is co-creator of comms2point0.