There was an interesting article in the Daily Mirror last week which analysed how local authorities across the UK make use of social media. The conclusion, hardly surprisingly, seemed to be that those councils which adopt an informal and chatty approach on Twitter and post interesting photos tend to communicate best.
It was a little worrying to note that some councils can go over a week without making any use of their social media accounts while some still insist of posting boring pics of members talking at committee meetings. My own local authority, Sefton Council, only tweets a few times per week and rarely uses photos. As a result it’s followed on Twitter by 1 in 36 of the population. This contrasts poorly with neighbouring Liverpool City Council, highlighted as an example of good practice in the Mirror report, which is followed by 1 in 20.
A good example of how social media can be used creatively in the public sector is the current campaign by the Electoral Commission in partnership with Facebook to encourage voter registration among young people ahead of the Scottish Independence Referendum.
There are some people who question whether councils should use social media for anything other than communicating information in crisis situations such as severe weather. But with local newspaper circulations in continuing decline, it seems to me that public sector organisations need to make regular and imaginative use of social media if they are to get their messages across effectively.