When I left local government six months ago I said that this was to do more in local government and the public sector.
by Dan Slee
Every week being full-time on comms2point0 has been quite literally an adventure. One of the adventures was to write social media guidance for part of the public sector that is struggling with it. Health and Wellbeing Boards are where the NHS, charities and councils come together to make billions of pounds of spending decisions.
The Local Government Association (LGA) listened to members who said they were struggling in this area and commissioned us to draw-up some guidance. It is with huge pleasure that I saw that the LGA published Connecting Health and Wellbeing Boards: a social media guide.
If you think that guidance for this arcane corner of the public sector has nothing for you, I’d ask you to swing by and take a look. I think you’ll find some principles that can help you out whereever you are.
Climbing a challenge one step at a time
So, how do you persuade organisations and people that don’t use social media to start using it?
There was a long list of things that health and wellbeing boards should be doing. Live tweeting meetings, posting slides used at meetings to slide sharing website slideshare and using social media to listen are all there.
But nobody wants to look at Mount Everest on their first day in walking boots.
So, we made it easy. We made slow steps possible. We created five steps – or five stars – that made progress not only possible but measurable.
We made the first star deliberately easy. All you had to do was post the date and time of your meeting on a social profile. Simple. Congratulations. You’ve got a first star. As any walker will tell you
once you conquer your first hillock your eyes turn more readily to something a little bigger.
That, we think, is the powerful and encouraging thing that can make these guidelines work.
What I’m most proud of is that we didn’t just write this in a vacuum. We asked the online community and the offline community too. My role as author was less a writer and more a facilitator. What should these guidelines look like? Gemma Finnegan at the weekly #nhssm chat which discusses social media in the NHS steered two discussions that had a profound effect. I don’t have my name on this document. I have comms2point0′s logo. But we have thanked everyone who contributed to those discussions and the survey which shaped it. I also spent a lot of time chatting to people. If you want to look at an authority doing a trailblazing job look at Louisa Willoughby at Sheffield City Council and Cllr Simon Allen at Bath and North East Somerset. And some of the work that @claireOT has done in sketching out what things could look like.
Thanks also to Kristian Hibberd who has now left the LGA for pastures new and to Laurence Meehan and Caroline Tapster who remains.
We used data
We surveyed people and we used those results to shape the discussion.
* 53 per cent thought their council uses social media badly for health
and wellbeing boards.
* 81 per cent are in favour of live streaming.
* 83 per cent said that space should be given to the public to ask questions at meetings.
We had five basic principles
From my time in local government, I’ve been in favour of a framework of
basic principles rather than a dogmatic policeman of highly prescriptive. Nobody wants the guidance that says you must use MySpace. So we came up with this:
- Be engaging: interact wherever possible with users and reflect the
• Be timely: post information at a time that is most convenient or
relevant to the audience.
• Be jargon-free: use language that works on the platform of choice
without jargon and language that people outside the health and
wellbeing board would struggle to understand.
• Be connected: look to share content from partners and from across
the public or third sector where is relevant.
• Be informative: look to inform and to educate.
The #nhssm discussion of the LGA health and wellbeing board guidelines takes place between 8pm and 9pm on Wednesday November 19.