Use of social media is increasing at a phenomenal rate, and organisations have quickly cottoned on to the benefits of engaging with customers through social media channels. Local government is no different and many local authorities have already spotted that increasing use of social media allows them to reduce costs by moving to more cost effective channels whilst actually improving their customers experience. However, our experience suggests that local government can do more to fully tap into the benefits of social media.
We recently undertook a three month study that took into account a wide range of views and experiences, including a survey, via the Municipal Journal (MJ), on the current use of social media in local authorities. Our report, Updating your status: From housing and litter to facebook and twitter, contains the results of this study. The report also explores how social media can work within a local authority context, identifies its specific benefits and offers our recommendations to enable councils to overcome common barriers and have the confidence to “own” the channel.
Our research suggests that councils can take some simple steps to ‘update their status’ when it comes to using social media. These range from selecting carefully where to expand the use of social media so that it is appropriate for the target audience, providing training and guidance to staff instead of trying to control their activity, setting clear targets for using social media and tracking whether you achieve them, and establishing gateway processes to continually review whether to adopt or adapt to new channels.
Our report is supplemented with a YouTube video, which is intended to reflect the context of this report and can be disseminated to colleagues and partners more easily.
If you would like to discuss any aspect of our social media work with us or explore how we may be able to help you develop your use of social media as an organisation please contact Andy Mahon.