18 Sep 2012

10 top ways St Albans Council could use social media

Since I've been talking about getting St Albans Council to make what it does more accessible to the public, I've had some suggestions that it could be using social media a lot better.

I don't have the answers to this (saying "10 top ways" in the blog title was just to get you to read it!) But I do have a meeting with the deputy Chief Exec, who's interested in taking this forward. I'd also like to organise a "tweet-up" so local people interested in social media can discuss some ideas.

There are cost reasons to do more on social media too. The Society of Information Technology Management’s analysis of customer service interactions lists web transaction costs at 27p on average, compared with phone transactions of £3.22, and face-to-face transactions of £6.56.

So how could the Council be using social media better? Here are some ideas I've collected so far, but I'd love to hear yours.

  • Have someone at the Council responding instantly to Twitter/Facebook messages from residents, as a supplement to the phone service. This seems to happen intermittently at the moment but many councils, like Winchester, do it very well.
  • Have a Twitter hashtag so people at Council meetings, or watching on the webcast, can talk live about what's happening.
  • Have a Twitter widget included in the webcast software, running alongside webcasts.
  • Project Twitter comments on the wall of the Council chamber, so everyone can see what's being said.
  • Allow people to report, complain, or make planning comments etc by social media, without the need to fill in an online form or write a letter.
  • Actively monitor forums and blogs, seeing what people are saying about St Albans, and joining in that conversation.
  • Broadcast photos and news of what Council staff are actually doing to help, for example during snowy weather.
  • Hold webchats on topics of local interest.
  • Publicise Twitter as an easy way for people to report problems that they spot when they are out and about in the district.
  • Add code to the Facebook page to allow people to access online services direct from there.
  • Report real-time election results.
  • Informal competitions such as street-naming, or the new St Albans street party idea.
There are some statistics on what councils around England are currently doing with social media, in this Guardian article.

1 comment:

Tom said...

great article on social media. I am concerned about the time and effort the council need to "teach" people to use social media instead of traditional ways.

Do you think it would worth it if people would use both social media and traditional means. I mean, they will need to monitor and maintain an extra channel with possible segmentation of users. Do you think some services (like complains or commenting) should be allowed only on social media, so that people would get used to it?