a linkedin call to arms

LinkedIn is a brilliant comms channel to talk to business. So long as it's two way. Danks Cockburn PR look after the communications for one of the largest public - private platforms in the UK - the Greater Birmingham & Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership. In this refreshing post they talk of where they are.

by Mat Danks

 Before I dive headlong into this, I first offer an apology. If you’re looking for solutions and best practice here, I’m sorry. This is more of a mild tale of woe and perhaps a call to arms for local government and social media types out there.

LinkedIn and Local Enterprise Partnerships: in theory, it’s the perfect social media marriage.

On the one hand, we have the relatively new concept of LEPs, with heavy emphasis on the ‘partnership’, with an evolving network of public, private and third sector organisations.

On the other hand, we have LinkedIn, the moderately clunky, highly earnest social media platform based on an evolving network of public, private and third sector organisations.

Here we have a melting pot of everyone we want to talk to. Partners, politicians, journos, local authority staff, charities, you name ‘em, they’re likely to be there.

So, you’d surely think that using LinkedIn groups as a platform for discussion and communication couldn’t fail, right?

Well, yes and no.

In the 18 months or so since LEPs started to get off the ground in the UK, it’s not taken long for each of the ones local to us to get aboard the LinkedIn train. In fact, the Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP (whose communications we manage) was one of the later LEPs to join, with Worcestershire, Black Country and Coventry & Warwickshire already well established by the time we came to set things up at the start of the year.

Surveying the landscape, the results have been varied.

In terms of numbers, all of our the West Midlands LEPs are doing reasonably well, with Coventry and Warwickshire notably having more than 600 members. Please do help this cause by joining up now!

Across all of them, however, seems to be a common challenge – interaction and relevance.

Only really speaking from our point of view, we have found the process of initiating debate to be quite frustrating.

The moderating is an issue, for sure. Leaving the door wide open and making it a free for all sadly results in all manner of US recruitment companies, student loan debt and occasionally worse posts start cropping up, something that will soon turn potential users off.

Conversely, hitting the moderation switch, while keeping the spammers at bay, is unlikely to lead to too much lively debate.

Perhaps this is all it’s meant to be: a useful noticeboard for partners to use and a way of communicating material linked back to websites with limited interaction and debate.

But I can’t help feel there is more.

The infamous ‘From RDA to LEP’ group shows that debate CAN happen, albeit on a national level.

There is great debate there and the challenge is to make this happen on a more local level. Perhaps this call to arms might be just the spark we need.

Mat Danks is a partner at Danks Cockburn PR. 

Picture credit.

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