LINKwithlove

Social media policy - A big list

61 best social media tools for small business

Digital engagement cookbook

Why presentations suck

How a comms team could look in 2014

CIPR guide to social media monitoring

10 reasons why councils should embrace Facebook

7 creative Twitter campaigns

Google analytics quick guide

11 tips for more effective online surveys

10 skills the PR pro of 2022 must have

What does it mean to be human in social media?

Digital content standards guide

how to do twitter

twitter sizes and dimensions cheat sheet

50 top tools for social media monitoring

Introducing Yammer to your org

10 reasons to quit your job in 2013

105 Twitter apps for comms people

18 free tools for pr and comms people

the public leader's dilemma: how to become a social organisation

the 3 w's of twitter

social media infographic flowchart

creating digital content for comms

social media integration survey results

28 brilliant social media resources from the University of Warwick

the public are much more reasonable than the media

glasto for geeks

the next web of open, linked data (youtube)

what's an unconference?

top twitter analytics tools

taking your slide deck to the next level

u.s. army social media handbook is here

cipr supports prsa 'pr defined' initiative

how to improve local government communications

econsultancy state of social media report 2011

research: twitter drives more traffic to press releases than facebook

how to respond to criticism online

using digital channels effectively

12 Commandments for Local Government News

search for good stuff ...

« facebook week and our rather fine facebook event | Main | #lgcommscardiff: the welsh are coming »
Sunday
Feb052012

what if?

by Helen Reynolds

In January 2011, Monmouthshire County Council gave all its staff access to social media. I work in the communications department and I've championed its use ever since I saw how well people responded to a MySpace page I set up to get the community behind the restoration of Shire Hall in Monmouth: suddenly we had a way for people to talk to the council in a convenient, informal way.

Opening access to social media wasn't seen as a brave move . Our council is creating a new culture of openness and innovation and the positives of a move like this were considered to outweigh the negative by some way.

It seems that when a new idea is put out there, we don't take the worst case scenarios as  reasons to avoid things. Focussing on the scare stories stops change happening.

So here are 15 'what ifs' we considered...

1. If we had opened up social media and found that all officers piled onto YouTube at one time and totally burdened our IT systems.

Well, what are the chances? So far it has not happened and I doubt very much it ever will.

2. If councillors and officers started swearing, giving out sensitive data and arguing with each other and the rest of the world.

We're trusted to know how to do our jobs. Sometimes we mess up, but not very often. Nothing in comparison to the number of inspired moments we have, and the times when we want to tell people about our work and listen to what people think of life in Monmouthshire.

3. If one person had opened up a link on Facebook that led to a virus taking over the whole IT infrastructure and stopped us all from working.

IT are good at their jobs. They have measures in place to stop viruses and other nasty computer things away (you can tell I'm not a techy). If it happens they will deal with it.

4. If managers found that officers were sitting around all day doing nothing but messing about on Facebook.

We are practising agile working here in Monmouthshire. Agile working is the term used to describe how employees can work flexibly from any location, be that from a council building, in the community, from home or any combination of these. We have instilled an ethos that work is not somewhere you go, but something you do. Managers can't control every move of each employee. They manage work programmes and if a person gets their job done brilliantly but takes a break to look at Facebook once in a while, that is fine. A member of staff elsewhere who sits at their own desk all day may well look busy but be on Facebook on their own phone.

The reality is that a great employee will do good work no matter what and a demotivated member of staff can waste time in all sorts of ways.

5. What if it's not worth the hassle/time?

Learning, making contacts, explaining what you do. Not a waste of time.

I have not been asked to prove the worth of using social media by measuring return on investment. It's worth was proved when senior management understood that this is a new tool to help us communicate in a more sophisticated, networked way. I'm not asked to produce a report on how long I spent on the phone, who I called and what my productivity through using the phone was. Evaluating is a useful way to improve on what we do and it supplements, basically, just asking Monmouthshire people what could be better using the tool. But it's not the purpose for doing it. We're doing it because it feels like the right thing to do. Communicating is worth the hassle and in some case it is service delivery in itself.

But what about our other 'what ifs'?

6. If residents were able to find out more about the services, events and information that makes a difference to their lives?

7. If our partner organisations were able to keep in touch with what we're doing, show public support and cross promote on similar work?

8. If council staff started to think of more succinct ways of expressing themselves and got succinct answers from people who use their service?

9. If professionally all staff had the opportunity to grow through making new connections all over the world and share pioneering approached to work with other experts?

10. If foster carers had a place to speak to each other whenever they want to?

11. If we got access to fantastic talent by using networks like LinkedIn and YouTube to attract outstanding candidates for jobs?

12. If people got to talk to the people that make decisions, question them and get answers in real time while they watch EastEnders?

13. If our communities saw us as a voice in a conversation and not an outdated, paternalistic organisation that doesn't join in on community life?

14. If PDF newsletters that used to be emailed to the world and his wife became a blog allowing people to comment on stories and be tweeted and facebooked and sent as hyperlinks?

15. If Monmouthshire went digital?

Monmouthshire did and became the world's first wikipedia town. 

What if others now follow? They surely will.

Helen Reynolds is communications officer at Monmouthshire County Council.

photo credit

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

References (1)

References allow you to track sources for this article, as well as articles that were written in response to this article.
  • Response
    comms2point0 free online resource for creative comms people - comms2point0 - what if?

Reader Comments (8)

Excellent points, Helen.

In case people don't know what you mean by "the world's first wikipedia town", allow me to point out that that's the MonmouthpediA project; and uses QRpedia QR codes.

MonmouthpediA aims to create (or improve) Wikipedia articles about every notable subject in the town; and QRpedia provides QR codes linking to such articles, which, when scanned, deliver content in the user's preferred language. Additional editors, photographers and translators are always welcome to get involved.

[Disclosure: I'm involved in both projects]

February 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAndy Mabbett

Great blog. I work in marketing in a local authority not a million miles from Monmouthshire and can only dream of being allowed to freely use social media to do my work. Monmouthshire are showing the way and can only hope that my authority eventually gets around to following their lead. Currently trying to work with one hand tied behind my back. Frustrating

February 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAnon

Thank you for this useful blog, the arguments against an organisation opening social media up to its staff come down to trust. I wonder if organisations approached using the telephone in the same way when they were first introduced?!

February 7, 2012 | Unregistered Commenteranon

Thanks for the replies.

We agree - Monmouthshire are an example to many across all sectors about trusting staff and genuinely embracing social media, along with other forms of innovation.

The benefits are there for all to see, and will no doubt grow and grow. We'll be watching with interest.

February 7, 2012 | Registered CommenterDarren Caveney

In case people don't know, your comment on "the world's first wikipedia town" refers to MonmouthpediA, a project to get Wikipedia articles about every notable feature (building, person, event, etc) in Monmouth written (or improved) and translated into many languages (Wikipedia has over 270 language versions!), and to apply a thousand QRpedia,/a> QR codes around the town, so that people can access those articles on their mobile devices, in their preferred language.

New contributors are always welcome, whether writing or translating - we specially need Welsh speakers!

February 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAndy Mabbett

In case people don't know, your comment on "the world's first
wikipedia town" refers to MonmouthpediA, a
project to get Wikipedia articles about every notable feature
(building, person, event, etc) in Monmouth written (or improved) and
translated into many languages (Wikipedia has over 270 language
versions!), and to apply a thousand QRpedia,/a> QR codes
around the town, so that people can access those articles on their
mobile devices, in their preferred language.

New contributors are always welcome, whether writing or translating -
we specially need Welsh speakers!

by Andy Mabbett aka @pigsonthewing

February 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAndy Mabbett

I work within the NHs very near to Monmouth but in England. Research has shown that it takes over ten years for new good ideas to begin to be adopted by other NHS units within hospitals and GP surgeries. What if the managers of the NHS encouraged the kind of developments in ICT use that you have so wonderfully described?

April 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDr Malcolm Rigler

Nearly a year on, and this is still a thought-provoking post on the concerns and benefits of opening up social media across a council. Thanks!

January 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterZoe

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Post:
 
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>