Ever stuck for something to do on a Friday lunchtime? Need a motivational boost after a tough week? Want to share and learn from peers across the sector?

Then the new #lgovsm (Local Gov social media) chat might be worth a look.

Organised by @loulouk and based on a similar idea running for those working with or interested in social media use by the NHS, the chat allows a Twitter conversation to take place through the hashtag.

Each week the conversation is themed and practitioners can share experience, ask questions and collaborate on ideas. Last week (7 January 2010) the theme was winter service and use of social media by local governement during the recent snow.

There was lots of good conversation taking place about how social media had been used to keep residents up to date, how we might measure success and channel shift (as well as the associated efficiency savings), overcoming internal suspicion and sceptacism.

It allowed examples to be shared and questions to be asked of each other. I was pleased to discover a few new (to me) local government tweeters throughout the hour the chaired chat was underway.

The topic also widened out – how could local government utilise social media to encourage and enable employees to work from home and could localised snow maps (for example) be created with home-based staff supplying and verifying data?

This weekly conversation is a great way for practitioners to talk to others within the sector. For peer-to-peer support and encouragement about topics many of us are working on it fits into the routine nicely.

What is more difficult to see is how the conversation can be a practical support workshop and facilitate the bigger conversations – the discussions about ‘ideas’ and ‘ideals’ with practitioners, influencers, other sectors and residents. I’m not sure that is the intention but there was certainly some interest in taking the hashtag in that direction last week.

Anyway, the chat takes place on the hashtag #lgovsm every Friday between 1 and 2pm. Today’s chat (Friday 14 January) is about getting councillors to use social media.

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