Local government haz embraced social media lol
Council use of social media has come a long way in the past five years: in 2007, a Socitm annual conference debate session on "Web 2.0" (which, as some may remember, was the favoured term for social media in those distant days) was met with baffled head-scratching.
Although a show of hands at this event revealed around 10% of IT directors had a personal Facebook profile at that time, among councils themselves official use in 2007 was close to zero. Concerns about staff time-wasting on social media dominated, and as one delegate remarked afterwards: "most of us are still trying to get the hang of Web 1.0".
Five years further on, and the picture is very different: this week, the same organisation published a report on social media use in local government which found not only that 88% of councils now have at least one kind of social media account, but that many councils have not only corporate but multiple service or project accounts, tailored for specialist communication.
Within the overall figure, 84% of councils (363) have at least one Twitter account, compared with 73% last year. Just under three-quarters (73%) have at least one Facebook account, compared with 62% a year ago. But as well as corporate accounts, subsidiary accounts found relate to a wide range of services from waste and recycling to museums and the arts, plus feeds dedicated to specific types of update such as planning applications (located on maps), jobs and emergency alerts.
Several councils have held live Twitter events as well, typically to give people an insight into 24-hours into the life of a council, a service or a member of staff.
As might be expected for the largest council, Birmingham City boasts the most social media accounts, with 62 official accounts in Twitter and Facebook (31 on each) with a total overall of more than 70,000 followers.
Not all of these are well used: the Twitter account @BCCRentServices for instance, described as: "We collect rent & any other money due to Birmingham City council on your home, so we can continue to provide you with housing services" , has just 71 followers so far.
Compare that with the number of people who have signed up to follow the Twitter feed from Salford City council which channels a ghost haunting local attraction Ordsall Hall, @TheOrdsallGhost: "Our most famous ghost, the White Lady, has recently taken up the habit of tweeting about what she thinks about everything that is going on at the hall (ghostly goings on included)." Number of followers: 400. The White Lady, it has to be said, is suspiciously cheerful and welcoming for a tormented spirit.
As well as recommending what most councils now seem to accept - that all councils should engage with social media as at least part of their communications mix - the report recommends that councils publish details of their social media accounts, and of their acceptable social media use by staff.
The briefing, Social media goes mainstream - but in the right way? is published as part of Socitm's annual "Better Connected" snapshot report of UK council websites, to be published online on 1 March free for Socitm Insight subscribers; non-subscribers pay Ãƒ‚Ã‚Â£495 from 15 March.
Socitm Insight: http://www.socitm.net/insight
Birmingham City council social media list: http://birmingham.gov.uk/socialmedia