LocalGov group hug*

A slightly unusual name for the first session I attended at UKGovCamp10, suggested and led by someone I won’t name as they’d come unofficially rather than on behalf of their organisation.

The session was intended to share progress, experience and tips on social media,online and technology for local government. The focus was on how to get middle and senior management to see the value in social media for communication.

In this respect, for me, it was a familiar topic for a govcamp but this wasn’t a bad thing. It’s always useful to be reminded that we’re not all at the same point on the journey and those of us further ahead haven’t necessarily passed on all our tips to everyone just yet.

The session was a real mixture of people from those of us who’ve made some progress with projects or ideas and others who are struggling to do anything at all due to lock downs and risk avoidance.

There were some good tips shared on starting to monitor what is being said about an organisation and the Derby social media map by Tim Cooper and Paul Coles was cited as a great way of giving stakeholders a visual overview of the reach of social media. (You can find the social media map on the Derby and Derbyshire Social Media Cafe website).

Ideas around calculating opportunity to view figures and other marketing-style reporting of social media. Choosing a project and, here’s a GovCamp phrase, Just F**king Doing It (JFDI), in order to show benefits rather than presenting an abstract concept was also muted by several of us with stuff already underway. There are good examples of use by different councils and organisations and these could be tapped into if you can’t JFDI yourself – an example with a tangible result may take away the ‘Emporers’ New Clothes’ feel for risk averse organisations.

My raising of (another GovCamp phrase) ‘forgivness being easier than permission’ got mixed reactions in the room and on Twitter. In retrospect I may have sounded more blase about JFDI than I really am. It is a big step, and I’ve not got so many projects behind me that I’ve forgotten the fear and the risk of the first time.

A big part of my feeling able to take that risk is the support network and expertise I’ve found through GovCamps and networks like Twitter.The group shared some of the resource points we go to – Liz Azyan’s amazingly wonderful and extensive LGEO Research site, IDeA Communities of Practice, pubsectorblogs, Twitter and, hopefully in the future, the Knowledge Hub.

(I shared our Local Elections 2009 example as part of this discussion.)

The general feeling at the end of the session was that most local gov organisations are still at the stage of having only one, or a small group, of passionate people determined to move forward in the right way with online communications and social media. Through sharing across local government (and with the wider public sector too) we can support the individuals and provide evidence to enhance the confidence of organisations in communicating in this new channel.

Perhaps once communicating online seems more normal than innovative we can move onto engagement and other ways the social web can transform local government. πŸ™‚

* No physical hugging took place as a part of this session πŸ˜‰

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3 thoughts on “LocalGov group hug*

  1. I think there were some really good points in this session about the value of the JFDI approach. I don’t think you came across as blasΓ© at all. But I do think it’s harder for staff who have a good grasp of using social media to take a JFDI approach (e.g. the web team) if they have no official Comms function and are one step removed from management of the main Comms channels.

    There is something around sustainability here as well. To get social media to be a mainstream Comms, engagement and service delivery channel then we need to be working to train and support staff around the organisation to use it well. This is the approach we are taking and we’ll have to see how that goes. It may take us a while to get there but we’re hoping that eventually we’ll have a sustainable model. Another Council Web Manager I know runs social media surgeries for internal staff which I thought was a great way to spread the knowledge, skills and enthusiasm.

  2. Thanks for the reply Michele πŸ™‚

    I agree that it would definitely be harder or at least a bigger step for someone outside of comms to get started on this road. I hope in my organisation being a contact point for them would allow confidence in going forward as well as offering advice.

    I think your points about sustainability are interesting. It sounds like I’m doing something similar to you although perhaps in a different way. We have a couple of corporate things run by me but everything else we’ve got going is run by people in the service areas. They have my guidance and support (and that of the rest of my team – not just me!) but do the updates etc themselves.

    I agree that this is really important if social media is to be used more widely throughout organisation. I like the idea of surgeries πŸ™‚

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