Four years ago when still at Walsall Council myself and fellow comms2point0-er Darren Caveney staged something called #walsall24. It was the first time local government had used Twitter to tell a 24-hour story made from all the routine things it did. We always wanted the ball to be picked up and ran with. They’ve since become sector-wide initiatives in housing and local government.
By Dan Slee
So, there we were 10 minutes before 6am at the start of #walsall24 and still not sure if it would work.
What was this? We were using Twitter to tell people a snapshot of all the things our council did in real-time over the course of 24-hours from a pothole on the A41 to a Zumba class. Nothing would be too small.
We’d got some content lined-up. Lists of scheduled work from road engineers, leisure centre programmes and had someone stationed in the social care contact centre in the small hours.
Would it work? We checked our first potential tweet and knew that it would… it was environmental health officers investigating a noisy cockerel in a built-up area. Wow. I didn’t know we did that.
From there, we took part in the first Local Government Association #ourday and hosted the first discussion of a #housingday for housing.
We’ve learned things since and from this experience here’s 12 things to help shape your day.
Routine is interesting. From the jet pilot to the parking officer, everyone thinks their job is boring and no interest to anyone else. It always fascinates other people. Find the routine and share that.
Realtime is interesting. One of the strengths of Twitter is the realtime aspect of things whether they be football results or road closures. Tell people as you do it.
Pictures work and video works better. Words of text don’t leap off the screen like an image or footage. You have a smartphone in your pocket. Use it.
Share the sweets. Let other people from across the organisation tell their stories in realtime.
Tell stories. The boiler being installed in Brown Street, Oxdown is great. The boiler being installed for Jessie Timmins who has two children aged five and nine is greater.
Get people to do something. Stories of what librarians are doing are fine. Asking people to sign-up to join the library or to take out a book is better.
Shout wider… the world is not on Twitter. So embed the content on your website, use something like storify to capture your tweets and embed it on the relevant webpage.
Shout wider… and use other platforms. There’s this amazing website called Facebook that’s doing quite well. Whats App or Snapchat too. Experiment. Don’t stand still.
Shout wider… internally. By screenshot, email, poster or telephone call. The telling of the story shouldn’t be limited to just online. Take it offline too.
Best content comes from outside the office. Encourage those people who are out and about to use social media and in places where they don’t or wouldn’t shadow them for a while. If the street cleaner clears up rubbish in an empty street at 6.12am… does she?
Use the main account as Match of the Day highlights… and use others. This is where the wider network of linked social accounts works. Let the library talk on the library, the repairs team on theirs. Use the central one to collate and share.
Build a community from it. Update your A-Z list of council accounts. Bring the people connected to them together. What worked well? What didn’t work well? Meet in a café at 4pm where they serve coffee and cake. Do it regularly.
Dan Slee is co-founder of comms2point0.