LocalGovCamp on Saturday and since then I've been thinking about how I can share my thoughts and what I learnt. As my brain is currently a big plate of ideas spaghetti, I thought it would be more coherent if I broke them into smaller blog posts based on the sessions I attended.
The first session was 'Twitter 24'. It was about what local authorities and other organisations have got out of events such as GMP24, Walsall24, Freebridge24 (which I blogged about here) and Shrop360.
The general consensus in the room was that these events generate media coverage, demonstrate the range of work the organisation carries out and crucially, wins over a hesitant internal audience.
Now I love a PR stunt as much as the next gal but something about these type of events make me feel slightly uneasy. I can't help but think, 'ok, but what about the day after that?' If we're going to move from social media being shiny and new to something that actually transforms services and therefore, people's lives, then surely we have to think about what happens the next day?
It's something I've been thinking a lot about at Wolverhampton Homes because, after 18 months of persistence, we've got to a point where social media is working for us reasonably effectively as a (two-way) communications channel, but it isn't yet transforming services.
These events do generate media coverage (though perhaps not for much longer given they're losing their novelty status) and do, to some extent, show the work of the organisation (albeit in a largely 'broadcast' sense). But my worry is about trying to win over an internal audience with something that is essentially a gimmick, misses the point of what social media can do. It feels a bit like we're dumbing down.
When I think about where I would like Wolverhampton Homes' use of social media to go, the utopian ideal I'm aiming for is where social media genuinely empowers customers and staff to cut through all the crap and get things done.
I'm imagining geo-tagged estate evaluations, communities that feel safe in and proud of their neighbourhood, twitpics of estate improvements, genuine consultation, easier reporting of hate crime - so it can be tackled and further incidents prevented, open data so customers can judge our performance and be given genuine service choices, an empowered silent majority and less antisocial behaviour because people know and feel able to speak to their neighbours.
I'm trying to work backwards from that picture and think what needs to happen to get to that point. I think the key is about up-skilling tenants and staff so they see the possibilities. It's something we're already doing with Homes on the Net and Networked Neighbourhoods, but I know we need to do more of it, now I've got to figure out how. That's the thing about LocalGovCamp, it can give you a head full of ideas but the important thing is putting them into action.
Photo reproduced under Creative Commons licence by kind permission of Andreas Nilsson.