I’ve just spent the last half an hour telling the office about last Friday’s Local by Social event in Coventry – in particular we were all intrigued by the success of the cities Facebook page.
Coventry is ‘liked’ by nearly 16.000 people (the most of any council-led Facebook page in the UK) and the wall – which features posts on anything from tips on how to save on energy bills to updates on leisure centre closures – receives a healthy dose of comments and conversation.
Why has Coventry worked so well? Because it was conceived around a specific issue – last December’s snow storms and the communities need for quick updates on schools closures and the state of the roads. This underlines that for social media to be effective in bringing communities and councils together, it must be built around a common ‘socialising’ ingredient – a clearly defined problem or policy that genuinely matters to local residents.
What works for Coventry though will not necessarily work for all councils. Just like every ward has its own individual make-up, so to must any council’s online presence. You must know who your audience is and what information they want.
As Dominic Campbell of FutureGov said, “the CSR has pushed local government towards a new way of thinking” so it now seems time to start seriously looking at how the internet can be used to support these changes in mentality.
I’ll hopefully write a few more posts on ‘what I learnt’ at Local by Social later in the week. In the meantime there is lots of interesting information from this months earlier Local by Social online conference.