#localgovdigital – Open Thinking and Practice

Are you a local government team that blogs about their work? LocalGov Digital wants to hear from you!

One of the things that I believe is important is being open about the work we all do and I’d like to encourage more people to blog as individuals or as teams as I think and believe it will help the sector collaborate with itself and with others who are inspired or interested in what we are doing. I also believe it helps share the story of local government in a different and more engaging way.

So if you are part of a team who works in local government and your team blogs – please complete the online google form so we (LocalGov Digital) to promote and help broaden your reach and hopefully connect you with different teams who can learn from your practice and story.

If you’re able to share how blogging has benefitted your team with the wider LocalGov Digital network of practitioners please get in touch with us at LocalGov Digital – leave a comment, Tweet us @localgovdigital, join the KHub group or connect via our G+ Community.


Remembering to reflect on your own journey

Last week I had a telephone conversation with Liz Azyan about the progress that Devon has made around social media etc since we spoke last on this topic late 2009.

One of the great things conversations like that do is make your reflect on how far you and your organisation has come in that time.

One thing I haven’t been doing very well lately is looking back through my own blog and seeing how my thinking has evolved, how ideas developed and changed as well as how my approach has changed…This is actually very empowering and liberating to see first hand that I have made progress individually, my thinking in some areas has come to light and made practical difference to people working for the council.

It also shows me where I have left behind some ideas in favour of news ones, but I haven’t clearly articulated to myself that I’ve changed direction and that is something I find important as my mind is full of “stuff” and I need to make practical steps to make sense of that in ways that not only I can understand but others.

I thought I’d take a look at my blogs footprint through a wordle and get a sense of the topics I blog about using my blogs RSS feed. (


When I looked back at the content I posted on my blog during January of 2010 – a whole 2 years ago now – I was in a different mindset, a different world almost…I was in fact in a completely different job, one focused more on strategy first than practical application….whereas now I have to think about both of those in equal measure.

I blogged a total of five times and the majority were about risk and governance and of course there was the now compulsory UKGovCamp blog post (January is the UKGovCamp Rock Fest Month)

However one post, which was more of a link to previous thinking and external blogging content was the Facebookisation of the Enterprise post – essentially suggesting and proposing what could happen if the IT department behaved more like facebook and created a platform for stuff to be built upon.

I’ve taken aspects of the thinking around that and have taken this into the Content Strategy I am writing.  It is interesting to see how little ideas last and evolve into other aspects of my thinking.

So in looking at all of this, I’ve decided to be more reflective overall and to first look back at my own thinking before I write something on the blog, or use that challenge of my own thinking as the basis of a blog post itself.

Do you reflect on your own blog posts? How has your thinking evolved over the months and years you’ve been blogging?

Social Media and the Workplace – Common Craft Video

For Local Government Colleagues who are keen to explain what social media in the workplace means but struggle to get their point across…

A colleague of mine @carefulkeith pointed me in the direction of  “Social Media and the Workplace Explained by Common Craft

It states:

This video takes a look at how social media sites like blogs, Twitter and Facebook are changing how companies think about external communication. It includes points on:

  • How social media sites are making organizations rethink external communication
  • How one company confronts a crisis – and learns how social media can help
  • The role of empowering employees to participate
  • The role of policies and guidelines in social media participation

Common craft videos are also available on you tube but this one isn’t available.

My popular pages

As you’ve probably noticed over the last 24 hours I have been quite busy on my blog and in doing so I noticed my blog stats and my popular pages for the last couple of days – so being curious I dug a bit deeper and it came as no surprise to me that other than the “homepage” the most popular page on my blog was the Revised Social Media Policy and Guidance, which I developed for Devon County Council.

However what did surprise me was the total number of visits – now as it is in multiple parts I roughly totalled up the number of visits for all parts since April and it came to over 6500 – that equates to 928 visits per month since April this year – 7 months…

I was very surprised by this figure and also very proud at the same time. It is a piece of work I am very pleased with and the involvement of key stakeholders only makes it more worthwhile as a piece of work.

This was a very humbling thing actually as I don’t see my blog as being “popular” – I don’t really do it for others to benefit, I’ve said all along that it was for me to share my thoughts (half-baked or otherwise) and hopefully help myself make sense of the world I live and work in. On average my blog gets 49 visits a day, which is an increase on the previous years which were 33 for 2008 and 43 for 2009.

As of 8th November 2010 I’ve received 38,798 total visits since June 2008 – I currently have 28 active subscribers with a further 78 subscribing to comments somewhere in the blog. Finally my biggest referrer to the site is Twitter.

I probably should have done this in june this year as a 2 years on scenario, however I didn’t, but I’m really pleased that my blog is of value to others and the content I share is “hopefully” reused by others.

Thank you all for reading and contributing.


My first year blogging

Today this blog is one year old, I have to admit that i am surprised to some degree that i have managed to keep it going for this long and that i have actually found it to be a excellent resource for myself as a way of exploring new ideas and gauging opinion from people. Never underestimate the value of “drafts” in developing your thinking..

I have used it on the whole for work related discussions but did use it for a period last year to share my thoughts and reflections of my wife’s and my family’s journey with Thyroid Cancer. Taking the decision to share those personal experiences with potentially so many people, wasn’t taken lightly, but i felt i needed to get “stuff” off my chest and in doing so i made some great connections not just for myself but for my wife.  It also proved to me the benefits of allowing people in to your personal thoughts and feelings sometimes and gaining a very different kind of support which i cherished and valued so much.

In terms of work, my blogging has enabled me to feel supported when on occasion that wasn’t happening internally. It also (along with twitter) gave me a new network of colleagues and peers. You all add value by sharing your insights and thoughts. Without these tools i don’t think i would have felt supported, in touch, networked and accessible.

Now i didn’t set myself any measurements or targets for my blog, i just did it for me and hoped along the way what i wrote would also offer value to someone else.

Some statistics about my blog’s first year

  • First year visitor numbers (June 2008 to June 2009) – 13050
  • Average visitors per day
    • During 2008 – 33
    • During 2009 – 39
  • Posts and Comments
    • Total Posts: 181
    • Total comments: 226


What i found interesting about these stats was that it really does help to connect the multiple channels and multiple networks to enable a wider audience to participate or at least read the content.

I was also really pleased with the numbers. I never expected anything huge and was thinking something like 10-20 visitors per day would have been good  – considering the most logical audience base is in local government and that is where “access to social media” is such a challenge.

If others could have access and start similar blogs and share experiences in this way, i wonder what impact that would have on the pace of change in our local councils. It would be like attending a conference everyday and gaining insights and lesson from other people trialling new ways of doing things and all for FREE.

I have many personal highlights over the last year for my blog, here are a just a few of them;

  • starting it in the first place – huge step, and no cost to the organisation or resources in ICT
  • getting my chief executive supporting social networking on camera and available via the blog
  • sharing and developing my councils social media policy and guidelines through the blog
  • connecting with many new friends and colleagues

Some connected benefits and i’m not entirely sure if these are connected to my blog or twitter or both, but in the last 12 months i have also spoken at a number of events on the lessons we have learned and ideas etc. That has also enabled me to connect to more and more people as well as get challenged by people, which is also a really valuable process.

What next?

So many things have happened in the last year and the next 12 months will be even more exciting. I haven’t set any targets as such as i’m not yet in a position to think that my blog is a marketing medium for me. Maybe in the future i will enter the consultancy arena (as do many others) and will re-evaluate my online presence and align it with other channels to get the maximum benefit.

In the meantime, i am keen to continue to share the lessons i learn here and my thoughts on the ever expanding area of social media and social networking in local government and i want to connect to many more people who are also doing excellent things as well as those making mistakes.

There are a few events i am speaking at or involved with via panel sessions this year and i have listed them below. If you are going to any of these or are speaking then i look forward to meeting you. Do stop me and let me know what you are doing.