On Friday I took part in an event at Huddersfield Town Hall for Kirklees Local Democracy Week to demonstrate the work we are doing on the 21st Century Councillor Project and how social media and technology can be used to assist ward councillors in their role by providing better communication, information and intelligence.
The first part of the event - a session in the council chamber outlining the work – was very well attended. After a brief and skillful definition of blogs by David Woodhead he went on to talk about his experiences keeping a blog as a councillor and wrote his next blog post. The stats for David’s blog are incredible reaching up to 3,000 hits per month yet he modestly warns “don’t expect much traffic…” as it’s still early days.
Next up was Andrew Cooper who talked about his use of facebook and video as tools to help engage with communities and groups. Cllr Cooper is making good use of video to explain complex issues and (as he showed us with a video that is sadly only available on facebook) demonstrate the results of some of his campaigns. Andrew also talked about his recently started blog which he is using to inform and start conversations about ideas and possible solutions to problems.
We have also been advising The Leader of the Council – Mehboob Khan – on blogging (something which he is keen to do) and, though not quite ready to launch on Local Democracy Week the audience were told to expect this in the next couple of weeks
The question and answer session felt possitive with people keen to know more. The usual concerns regarding: moderation; control of content that may appear on the “organisation’s web site”; the separation of professional and private life; increase in workload were raised. Though I was glad to be called upon to answer some of these concerns I am getting tired of hearing myself say the same things so I’m now on the lookout for more and different ways of saying them.
could view examples of what we were doing in more detail and even have a play with them for themselves. This too was equally well attended and the buzz of conversation around the room indicated the level of interest and – dare I say – excitement around the work.
It was great to meet a social network aquaintance – John Popham who turned up for the event after I mentioned it on twitter. John – who is interested in the work we are doing setting up a Social Media Surgery in Huddersfield – was fresh back from Birmingham where he had been to check out Birmingham’s Social Media Surgery the night before. John posted – Every City, Town, Village & Neighbourhood should have a Social Media Surgery – on his blog which includes a really useful video of Nick Booth talking about his ‘recipe’.