Social Media – our journey so far…

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In some ways I am surprised by the amount of support and enthusiasm my colleagues  and peers in my council have shown in relation to social media and social networking, but at the same time i’m not surprised as i spent the best part of 8 months last year working and promoting the benefits to anyone who would listen and to many more who wouldn’t. But the hard work and determination has allowed other people’s creativity to flourish and i am starting to see lots of great ideas and innovative opportunities crop up within my council now and i am now looking forward to a year in which we will hopefully see some real change and transformation.

So i thought i would take stock and summarise the work and the areas my council has done or has started to work on in the areas of social media.

Corporate stuff

Policy review

Corporately we have taken a significant step forward by reviewing our internal internet usage policy and i have pulled together a draft policy for “social media and online participation”. This will facilitate staff to engage more with these tools and to understand their role and the responsibility whilst online.

Social Media Forum

To enable me to facilitate use of social media and to keep up to date with what was happening it was essential for me to set up an internal forum to share best practice, discuss new opportunities and to learn how to engage with the tools on a practical basis. We have a private facebook group with 18 members and the first meeting was focused on purpose, networking and promotion, the next meeting which will be the 3rd February will have practical demonstrations and how to use – twitter, rss and the IDeA’s Communities of Practice (slides and information provided by Steve Dale) and best practice examples from colleagues on current use. We have over 25 people due to attend the session in February and i am hoping this group will grow throughout the year.

Corporate Twitter Account

I set up a Devon County Council twitter account for the council which is fed by the rss feeds on our website. This is a simple step to take and one which easily demonstrates the publish once, use many concept. This has proved quite popular and as i write this we have 87 followers.

Staff Twitter accounts

To my current knowledge there are 14 staff in the council who have twitter accounts (listed below)I am in the process in researching if there are more, if i found out i will post them here.

DCC Twitterers (not all are constantly active)

  • Me
  • Sue Tylcoat – Solutions Development Manager @suety
  • Pete Morton – Enterprise Architect @podra
  • Sue Bicks – Enterprise Architect @subix
  • Russell Taylor – eComms @russ_t_uk
  • Martin Howitt – Enterprise Architect @mhowitt
  • Emma Jarvis ICT Programmes @emjarvis
  • Pip Tucker – Head of Strategic Intelligence @piptucker (private)
  • Richard Carter – Head of Business Transformation @rcarter (private)
  • Anna Matthews – National Management Trainee @localgovgrad
  • Lynda Bowler – Libraries Web Manager @lmbowler
  • Sarah Evans – Improvement Officer @sarahevans7
  • Katie Bacon – Youth Participation @katie_bacon
  • Shaun Carter  – Strategic Intelligence @Shaun32

In engaging with people either through presentations or just networking, i have promoted twitter, this is a tool which for a while i took a long time to get used to and didn’t really wonder how it could help, but after i started gaining followers and then followed more and more people, it started to prove its value and the networking and contacts i have gained through twitter and my blog are priceless and i look forward to meeting many of them at UKGovBarcamp09 in London and the end of January

Blue Kiwi Pilot

Last year we received a presentation from a company called blue kiwi who offer enterprise wide social software (there are of course others products available a google search will often provide many results). Anyway, once i saw the demo, i was hooked on the potential and was really keen to support a pilot. Fortunately my line manager (Sue Tylcoat – Solutions Development Manager @suety) was also keen and supported the idea. I contributed to a business case developed by a colleague (Sue Bicks – Enterprise Architect @subix) who also made the initial contact with Blue Kiwi and organised the demo, so i am grateful to them both in enabling this to come to the point where we are now in discussions to determine and agree the outcomes and deliverables of the pilot.

The potential of such a product is huge and is very difficult to measure and quantify making a business case difficult for all the things you know you want to see happen. However it does have real potential to reduce if not eliminate the need for internal email (over time that is) and really connect staff in ways they have never been able to with traditional intranet sites. The opportunity to see the knowledge grow and develop in front of your eyes in very exciting and i will be blogging on our experiences and lessons throughout the year

Youth Service – Youth Participation

This was really the starting point for all of the worek that has happened and will happen and recognition has to go to Katie Bacon – Youth Participation @katie_bacon for her tireless energy and enthusisam to get the social networking pilot off the ground. We had critical support from Tim Davies (who you must know by now). The work we have done in this area has led to us speaking at 2 conferences and i am involved in the LGIU Children’s Services Network – Action Learning Set.

We have also had visible and practical support from our Chief Executive (Phil Norrey) who did a 2 minute video about the importance of new technology in our engagement with young people.

Library Service

I blogged recently about our library service and how much they want to do, and if they achieve only half of what they are planning they will be leading the way in council in terms of innovative use of social media approaches and tools. I gave a presentation to their management team last year and there is now a half day session planned with about 15 key staff in libraries to develop a plan of action. Some of the areas of work i include below, but will blog more after the session.

  1. using Facebook or another Social Networking site to encourage and facilitate people getting folk involved with Exeter’s new library
  2. making better use of Flickr to share images in the Local Studies collection.
  3. subscribing to The Reading Agency’s GroupThing – Social Networking based creative writing/reading site for young people
  4. further developing People’s Network Enquire – by exploring real-time ‘Virtual Libarians’

All of the above has been incredible and the staff who are involved in these projects deserve huge credit themselves.

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4 thoughts on “Social Media – our journey so far…

  1. simonwakeman

    Great post Carl – some really interesting stuff that inspires me to push more in different directions at our council.

  2. Marc

    Hi Carl,

    I’m very interested in your policy for social media and online participation. Your draft policy is exactly the type of policy we are looking to introduce. Has this been finalised yet?

    How is your library service getting on with social media?

    • carlhaggerty

      The policy/guidelines are close to be finalised, we also have to conduct an equality impact assessment on all new policies and guidelines.

      I will publish when it is final as a reference for anybody.

      Our library service are fully engaging with social media. We have had to be realistic about what is achievable within resources though.

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