Blogs – Content, Length and Time

In the spirit of updating content ready for LocalGovCamp North West this short video finds Cllr Simon Cooke explaining some of the nuts and bolts of blogging for councillors.  The footage was shot at our CllrSocMed session in Leeds earlier this year.  Simon explains that blogs are dependent on personal style and reassures councillors that it doesn’t have to be time consuming to be effective.  Simon’s style is quick and short, whilst Cllr Andrew Cooper (referred to in the video) takes a different approach.

Related posts:

top 11 dos and don’ts

Updating some of our content for LocalGovCamp North West – Feb 2012 I keep coming across some useful info. The latest is this really handy guide about online reputation management produced my reputation.com

Blending On Line with Off Line

Another recurring theme at our Cllrsocmed sessions was the whole on line / off line discussion.   At our Barnsley session Cllr Simon Cooke sets the record straight in this video and provides some tips on how councillors can integrate the two to good effect.

A Blog Won’t Do Everything

At our cllrsocmed session in Leeds we got onto discussing the merits of blogs and the on-line / off-line conundrum.  In this brief video Cllr Cooke summarises the key points and gives some helpful tips on how councillors can use blogs effectively.

Newly Elected Councillor? …then this is for you!

Are you a newly elected cllr? Well congratulations! Please accept these links from the CllrSocMed Team as a welcome gift.

Over the last few months the team have been running cllr lead social media sessions across the Yorkshire & Humber region. Along the way we have had some great fun, worked hard, and gathered together a wide range of resources, all freely available to you, the elected.

There’s a mixture of advice and guidance from short instructional videos, to real insights directly from some of your cllr peers who use social  media on a daily basis.

It can all be found on the CllrSocMed site, but below are links to give you an idea of what the social media world could mean to you.

Councillors and social media …why bother?

Steven Tuck explains …the internet and social media (in 2 minutes)

Some Tips on Twitter: Twitter in Plain English

Cllrs and Twitter: some alternative case studies

Steven Tuck explains …what is a blog? (in 2 minutes)

Blogger.com: How to set up a blog

Blogger.com: Add a new post and insert an image

Cllr Simon Cooke …talks Cllrsocmed

Cllr Tim Cheetham …talks Cllrsocmed

Cllr Mike Jordan …talks Cllrsocmed

That should be plenty for now. We would advise listening to your fellow councillors, it really is about you and them, rather than us!

Oh, and if you feel the urge, please feel free to add yourself to our councillor social media map.

Best of luck to all of you. Here’s to the future!!

Cllrsocmed Tour of Yorkshire & Humber: Reflection and Evaluation

With all current sessions of the Cllrsocmed Yorkshire & Humber now completed, it’s time to provide a round up of where things are, what distance we’ve travelled and what additional resources we’ve generated for Cllrs at their request, so we can continue to support their social media education.

In addition to our inaugural Cllrsocmed session in York, at the Local Gov Camp Y&H, four further sessions have taken place across the region, taking in Scunthorpe, Scarborough, Barnsley and Leeds. Over 50 local councillors attended these sessions, representing 15 different local authorities.

The approach of the Cllrsocmed team during the sessions has not been to run them in a traditional training approach. Indeed, it has been very much the opposite. Councillors are a massively diverse group of people, whose experiences and knowledge are shaped by personal and public views, politics and the culture within the local authority they represent. Therefore, to provide a blanket, one size fits all approach on social media, would have been a grave error. Rather, it is an exploratory approach (to the ‘what is social media question’) that provides a more effective education. The expectation that just showing somebody how to set up a Twitter account and that is it, would be a seriously flawed point of view.

What it has been necessary for councillors to explore is what social media means to them, in real terms. Topics raised by them during the sessions, have included: how can I use it for campaigning; what if I say something wrong; case studies; political awareness; it’s just more time I don’t have; how can it be better than email; if the council provided me with the right equipment; the organisation don’t have those websites open to us; blurring of personal/councillor boundaries; we need the right support to develop our skills. Valid topics, all covered through discussion and debate, which is why how the sessions are delivered is very important.

Therefore, a key feature of the sessions’ success has been that the Cllrsocmed team includes a cross party representation of councillors who already use social media; Cllr Tim Cheetham, Labour; Cllr Simon Cooke, Conservative; Cllr David Woodhead, Liberal Democrat; Cllr Andrew Cooper, Green Party. While it has been the officers who have facilitated the organising and running of the sessions, it has not been ‘officers telling councillors what to do’. That role has gone to the councillors in the team, peer to peer exploration; it has a far more meaningful and inherent value. The importance of this should never be ignored.

As the sessions were about exploration and knowledge development, rather than specific mechanics, the most valuable way to evaluate the learning was capturing narrative comments. We recorded how councillors felt at the start of the day, midday and at the close of the session. Here is an indication of councillor progression:

Start: “I wonder how much it costs and how much time it takes”…”a bit nervous as there seems a lot to learn”…”apprehensive”.

Midday: “It is less about the technology, than the political perspective”…”for the first time I have been interested in the blog”…”able to ask questions without feeling ridiculous”…”I was dubious at first, but it’s not that scary really”…”knowledgeable presenters making you feel keen to get started”.

Close: “as an adjunct to more traditional channels of political communication, yes please”…”huge potential for the future”…”increased confidence in this new media stuff”…”has given me ideas about how to use it more effectively”…”definitely worth my while”.

Through listening to the councillors and reflecting on the live blogs, we have taken on board the varying needs of participants. This has resulted in development of numerous tools or insights of the sessions, all of which can be found on the Cllsocmed: Social Media for Councillors blog.

Cllrs – Why Small Talk is Important

Another regular theme that cropped up at our sessions with councillors involved discussing why social media users felt the need to share “trivial information”.   Why would anyone care what they were having to eat, where they were going, what music they are listening to.  “Why do people feel the need to share this stuff?”  In essence it’s the “social” part of social media, the part that forms the basis of the connections we make.  In this clip @steventuck puts the case succinctly.

 

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