There are a lot of really good, really valid reasons why local government is not always an
early adopter when it comes to new technology, like social media.
Local government is plenty busy with a lot of other things. Local
government has to be careful with public money, so it’s reasonable to
take a wait and see attitude…to a point. But there comes a time when
the weight of evidence is strong enough to take a risk. With social
media, I think we’ve just moved to that point. It’s time to move
interacting more openly with citizens online from the risk column to
the opportunity column.
There is a lot of good help already out there. SocialbySocial.com contains a lot of really good information about how voluntary and
public sector organisations can use social media for the public good as
well as an excellent jargon buster But that publication was aimed at a
fairly wide audience and the arguments needed to be put firmly in the
context of local government.
IDeA and NESTA have just published the discussion paper Local by Social: How local authorities can use social media to achieve more with less written by Andy Gibson. I believe that this document does provide a
compelling argument for how social media can be used as a tool (and not
as an end in itself) to support engagement, democracy, improved
services and perhaps even especially efficiency.
It brings together a range of examples of how social media has been used to support better outcomes for local communities in the UK and
beyond. It focuses on how councils can support and engage with
activities that are already taking place online without necessarily
being the ones to run it.
We’ve also provided three new case studies of how councils are using social media today to support better services but also better internal processes. The case studies from Brent, Devon and Kent on our WorkTogether case study library and network.
To find out more about social media developments in local government you can join the Social Media Community of Practice.