We've worked with the Local Government Association to produce guidance on how to use social media more effectively. There's advice for organisations, elected members and staff. It's transferrable stuff and it's brilliant...
For many social media is now an everyday part of their lives; something as natural as a phone call or a face-to-face conversation. Twitter, Facebook and the many other digital tools available are now employed to conduct a plethora of tasks: from complaining to utility companies to sharing ideas; from ordering shopping to building networks.
However, it should be remembered that like all technologies, there are some who have struggled to adapt to the new devices at their disposal - or to exploit the benefits they can bring, perhaps due to nervousness or concern over the potential pitfalls. Often these differing groups are clumsily labelled digital natives or immigrants - but these crude definitions fail to illustrate the broad spectrum of social media usage.
For example, last year it was reported that of the 974 million registered Twitter users, 44 per cent haven’t ever tweeted, with only 13 per cent posting 100 or more tweets. These figures reveal just how many people are passive social media users, seemingly lacking the confidence or know-how to move forward and engage further.
That same uncertainty affects councils and councillors, too. Many have been using social media for some time to communicate effectively and efficiently with residents and partners. Others, however, are further behind. Indeed, a question we are asked more than any other is ‘how do I do social media?’
For the Local Government Association, the national voice of local government, it’s important for us to work with the sector to ensure that we are all using the right channels to reach our residents. As a result we have launched a new resource – 'Digital Councils.'
We partnered with communications specialists Comms2point0 to create the hub, which offers support and guidance for councils, councillors and officers no matter where they are at on their digital evolution.
The resource includes the tools, tips and basic principles to get started, best practice case studies to learn from, advice on creating a digital strategy and a directory of social media handles to help build networks.
There are examples from councillors and officers who explain how social media has transformed their ability to fulfil their responsibilities – including a member who uses Skype to hold surgeries with residents, a councillor who has mastered the art of blogging to communicate with his ward, and a chief executive who has used the power of digital to democratise information and share ideas.
We would also welcome your examples of great use of social media – so please get in touch.
As the digital revolution continues apace, we are sure that the thorough package of digestible information contained within the Digital Councils hub will play a key role in helping councils, councillors and officers get the very best out of social media.
Laurence Meehan is Head of Campaigns and External Communications at the Local Government Association.