get your marks, get set, local government goes social

As social media week looms, the Local Government Association - the LGA - have posed a few questions. They want local government to get more social. During the week and maybe in the future too. Care to join in...?

by Michelle Rea, Sian Morgan, Liz Copeland and Kristian Hibberd

Over the last few weeks the LGA’s Communications team has been putting its collective head together on how we could use Social Media Week to further stimulate the use of social media by councillors, council officers and official council accounts.

Our thinking was that if local government made enough noise about all the great stuff being achieved by embracing the channel, the collective voice would prove powerfully persuasive to opponents, sceptics and the uninitiated.

We are keen to demonstrate through practical examples from the sector that using social media in a coordinated and sensible way can help enhance the reputation of local government, improve engagement with different elements of the community and drive efficiency.

We were hugely enthused eighteen months ago when DCLG encouraged councils to take “a modern day approach” to tweeting and blogging. You can therefore imagine our reaction when we heard the news that DCLG has now put before Parliament new regulations that would come into force this month effectively ordering all councils to allow bloggers and tweeters to type away to their heart’s content. Timing such as this rarely falls in one’s favour and while we may originally have been going down more of a carrot rather than a stick route, DCLG’s stick will (hopefully) add strength to our cause.

One of our ideas, which fortuitously aligns almost perfectly with the new regulations, is the creation of a badge or mark for councils to display on their documents, websites and any other relevant material which makes clear their commitment to allowing the use of social media during meetings.

We have already done some basic mock ups of what this could look like and are now working on some guidelines on how it might be used.

However, we would benefit from the input of the sector, so we’d hugely appreciate your feedback and thoughts on how best to implement this.

Michelle Rea is online knowledge officer for the LGA, Sian Morgan is external communications officer at the LGA, Liz Copeland is online knowledge adviser at the LGA and Kristian Hibberd is digital communications manager at the LGA.

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