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Local government and its use of social media

Published by Paul O'Brien on Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013 at 13:59 pm

Great day today at Elstree Studios in Borehamwood where we held our first conference on the usage of social media in local government, #apsesm

I gave my views on how social media fits within the debate that is taking place on the future of local government, how the concept of 'channel shift' is being developed and my own experiences of engaging in the social media revolution. My broader message was about the real reason for using social media is because you have a message you want to communicate, in a manner a growing number of people want to receive it in, and in a format that enables you to promote a discussion and dialogue in a timely and cost effective basis. 

Channel shift is of course the concept of shifting service users from traditional labour intensive methods of interaction to more automated transactions. The opportunity to achieve significant efficiency savings from this approach is obvious. To me it is just a natural evolution of improving business processes. We always need to make sure that we don't alienate those who are technologically or socially excluded, so maintain existing forms of communication although on a diminishing basis.

A recent APSE survey showed that there is still limited usage of social media amongst the local government officer corp, with elected members using it much more. I closed by telling my own story of maxing your message by promoting it through numerous communication channels, doing an article for a journal, posting a version of this on my blog and linking this to LinkedIn and Twitter, therefore getting the maximum exposure for one piece of work.

My conclusions were that social media is under utilised in local government, that huge opportunities exist to change the way services are delivered and consumed, that the public is changing the way it expects to interact with and receive services, that investment is needed in training if a cultural change is to be achieved and finally an opportunity exists to engage the public in a debate about the very future of local government.

There was some great case studies on how local authorities are using social media to communicate with residents and service users on winter gritting, school closures and the latest events at leisure centres. Another example showed how an app has been developed to allow the public to report fly tipping, graffiti etc.


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