An event held at The Public in West Bromwich on Friday bought together people who work in and around local councils in the West Midlands to highlight social media activity which has the potential to’ transform the way that citizens see and interact with council services and officers’. Jan Britton, Chief Executive of Sandwell Council says in the introduction to Best by West Midlands 2013: A White Paper on Social Media in Local Government:
‘Councils across the West Midlands are increasingly using social media channels to communicate and engage with customers, citizens and communities. We believe that councils are doing some amazing things not only to improve the skills of their staff and expand their knowledge but more importantly, to enhance relationships with and among their communities.’
Two examples of Dudley Council activity are highlighted in the White Paper and on the Best by West Midlands website. The first is Dudley Council’s Flickr site on which over 1600 photos have been shared to date. Jason Whyley from Dudley Council explains in the case study that:
‘Probably our biggest success with flickr, to date, has been around the building of community pride and has included working other privately run interest groups within the borough. We have used flickr to profile good news stories that come directly from the community, for example, a sketch book collection found by a member of the public in a charity shop that contained some great borough paintings from Edward Fox. Setting up local history interest groups, such as the borough’s links to the Titanic anchor, adding images from the borough’s archive relating to our proud heritage, and featuring interviews with former business owners.’
Dudley Council’s use of social media to support the Making it Real social care work is also featured as a case study.
Why a White Paper? As was explained on Friday, ‘a white paper is an authoritative report or guide helping readers to understand an issue, solve a problem, or make a decision’ (source: wikipedia). The people behind this one (Dan Slee and Darren Caveney of Comms2point0 and Improvement and Efficiency West Midlands) wanted to bring the great work going on in the West Midlands above the radar, and lay down a marker of progress by 2013.
- The Best by West Midlands website and links to all of the case studies
- A pdf version of Best by West Midlands 2013: A White Paper on Social Media in Local Government
- A Storify archive of tweets and photos from the Best by West Midlands event held on 26 July
(image: Best by West Midlands 2013 publication cover taken by Lorna Prescott)
I am very interested to see the different ways that social media is being used by communities and organisations to develop thoughts, ideas, and policies. At the same time, I am keen to learn more about social media forms and technology and their potential to engage and empower citizens/users
Thanks for your feedback. I found a great start to learning more about this was reading Clay Shirky’s books.
In ‘Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations’ Shirky “recounts how social tools such as blogging software like WordPress and Twitter, file sharing platforms like Flickr, and online collaboration platforms like Wikipedia support group conversation and group action in a way that previously could only be achieved through institutions” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Here_Comes_Everybody).
In a follow up, ‘Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age’ the “central theme is that people are now learning how to use more constructively the free time afforded to them since the 1940s for creative acts rather than consumptive ones, particularly with the advent of online tools that allow new forms of collaboration (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cognitive_Surplus).
These TED Talks offer a great summary of Shirky’s thinking in much less time than it takes to read a book!
How the Internet will (one day) transform government http://www.ted.com/talks/clay_shirky_how_the_internet_will_one_day_transform_government.html
How cognitive surplus will change the world
How social media can make history
I was amazed to learn about all the ways that social media is being used already by people in ways which empower them. So more than a potential, it’s a reality!