This guidance was written for a UK audience, but local politicians from anywhere will find everything bar a few legal bits useful.
People are now turning first to the web to find everything from information about days out, entertainment, shopping, to making connections with friends and colleagues. People expect to be able to comment and contribute on everything from online versions of newspapers to items they purchase from online retailers like Amazon. Citizens will increasingly expect that local government will be able to provide its services online with the same level of interactivity that they find everywhere else. It wasn’t that long ago that email was a novel way to contact your councillor. Already many councillors are interacting with the people they represent online through social media, and it won’t be long before this is common expectation, too.
Yesterday’s announcements from Prime Minister Gordon Brown are a sign that the race to go digital is getting faster and that there will be a strong expectation that councils will need use social media
to help local people engage with policy making and service design and use the Internet to make access to public services better, cheaper and faster for both citizen and service providers. There will also be a strong expectation that councils will need to make non-personal data open. This is an exciting, but fast moving agenda, that councils and councillors will need to get to grips with.
The IDeA, Leadership Centre for Local Government, the National Association of Local Councils and Standards for England have developed some practical guidance to help councillors use social media. Connected Councillors: a guide to using social media to support local leadership outlines how councillors are already using social media to engage with local residents and campaign on important local issues. It also covers how councils can be using social media more effectively to support
better services for local people and the role that councillors can take in leading this digital revolution.
Through the 21st Century Councillor’s programme we’re also launching an interactive website – where councillors and others can share their experience and read and comment on every aspect of the guidance. It includes case studies and videos of councillors talking personally about how they’re using social media and lots of links and top tips. If you’re already using Twitter, you can also share your experiences by tagging Tweets #21stcc