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Will the elections be an ideal time for councils to start using social media?

February 12, 2010

I spent some time presenting Local 2.0 to the London Boroughs Community Empowerment Network yesterday, alongside izwe and some of the governments Digital Inclusion people. Izwe will be launching their platform soon and I look forward to it, and for those of you unfamiliar with some of the projects going on within both the Digital Inclusion team at CLG and Martha Lane Fox’s office – it’s definitely worth a detailed look.

Whilst preparing for the event I was reading through a few of the blogs of civil servants. It seems – quite justifiably – that some of them will be downing their pens during purdah. I would probably be doing the same if I was in their position.

However, it made me think that for many council officers now could be the ideal time to start using social media.

Why? Well for the first time during major elections there will be a really active social media scene – people talking about local and national issues. These conversations are going to provide an insight into what matters locally; the issues people are judging councils on. People will also tell stories about why feel a certain way about an issue. This kind of information is the stuff public servants need more of.

Council officers who are interested in social media should listen in.

It’s an easy first step to make. There’s no need to comment and risk the wrath of superiors or anxious councillors. Just listen and see what you think.

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