It was great to see social media high on the agenda for day one of this year’s LGCommunications conference in Birmingham, which I attended on Tuesday.
Indeed the first publication I picked up as I arrived was the Government Digital Service’s new publication Social media guidance for civil servants.
What’s nice about this is that the actual guidance is only four pages long and in fact breaks down into six easy sections (plus a final one about the Civil Service code):
- Communicate with people where they are – 50% of the UK population use Facebook for example
- Use social media to consult and engage – ask for feedback and listen to what is said
- Increase the impact of your wider communications – news often breaks on social media channels first, so use this to your advantage
- Be more transparent and accountable – open up the decision making process
- Be part of the conversation – listen carefully and get the facts out quickly
- Work in partnership – don’t do things in isolation
It was observed by Dan Slee in the conference room and afterwards in his very helpful blog of the day, 18 pearls of wisdom, that local government could use some very simple guidelines like these. It was noted that many councils in the room didn’t have social media guidelines at all.
Looking back over my tweets from Tuesday, I’m struck by how many times the words “truth/true” and “trust” appear:
- Only 26 per cent of people TRUST local government managers to tell the TRUTH.
- TRUST is an essential part of brand.
- Never sacrifice TRUST – don’t make promises you can’t deliver.
- Communication is at its best when it’s TRUE and compelling.
- The bond of TRUST between us and the people we serve is low – we need to rebuild.
A key theme running through the day was ensuring the authenticity of your communications and building and maintaining a trustful relationship with the people you work for and with. In my mind, any social media guidelines should include a point about being real, truthful and authentic in any interaction with customers and staff.
I’d be interested to hear people’s views on this. Do you agree that local government needs some similar social media guidance? If so what kind of guidelines would you like to see? Perhaps you have some examples to share? Does the Civil Service guidance cover it?
Oh, and if you'd like to hear more from the LGComms conference check out Dan’s blog from day two – 24 pearls of wisdom this time!