This document refers to a publication which focuses on English local authorities (i.e. municipal government), but I think the same arguments hold and it also features a number of international examples.
There are a lot of really good, really valid reasons why local government is not always an early adopter when it comes to new technology, like social media. Local government is plenty busy with a lot of other things. Local government has to be careful with public money, so it’s reasonable to take a wait and see attitude…to a point. But there comes a time when the weight of evidence is strong enough to take a risk. With social media, I think we’ve just moved to that point. It’s time to move interacting more openly with citizens online from the risk column to the opportunity column.
There is a lot of good help already out there. SocialbySocial.com contains a lot of really good information about how voluntary and public sector organisations can use social media for the public good as well as an excellent jargon buster But that publication was aimed at a fairly wide audience and the arguments needed to be put firmly in the context of local government.
Today IDeA and NESTA publish the discussion paper Local by Social: How local authorities can use social media to achieve more with less written by Andy Gibson. I believe that this document does provide a compelling argument for how social media can be used as a tool (and not as an end in itself) to support engagement, democracy, improved services and perhaps even especially efficiency.
It brings together a range of examples of how social media has been used to support better outcomes for local communities in the UK and beyond. It focuses on how councils can support and engage with activities that are already taking place online without necessarily being the ones to run it.
We’ve also provided three new case studies of how councils are using social media today to support better services but also better internal processes. The case studies from Brent, Devon and Kent on our WorkTogether case study library and network.