LGCYH – Twitter Ye Not?

In the final part of the councillor session at #lgcyh we discussed Twitter.  None of the councillors in the group currently used Twitter so without hesitation we pulled up the brilliant Tweetyhall.  A great way to explain what Twitter is from a councillor perspective.

Cllr Cheetham and Cllr Cooke went through how they used Twitter in their councillor role, passing on a few tips along the way.  These included:

– follow as many councillors as you can – this is a good short cut to finding how councillors use Twitter to good effect;

– remember that followers are interested in what you are doing (don’t underestimate the impact of the “human side” of being a councillor);

– it’s a great way of extending your councillor and officer network – help, advice and different perspectives are only 140 characters away.  It’s cheaper than going to conferences;

– it’s quick, cheap and easily links with other social media tools that councillors might use.

Our discussion looked at how councillors and politicians have used Twitter to good effect, including:

– how #tags are a great tool for bringing discussions together into one place (some councils are looking at making ward based #tags a standard);

– the positive use of Twitter by local and national politicians during the General Election, both as a broadcasting tool and as a means of campaigning;

– a good way to quickly and succinctly get key messages to local people – examples of how Twitter was used during the snow this winter struck a real chord with the group.

As with the other discussions, we also looked at some of the Twitter headline stories – Tweeting in meetings,  Stuart Maclennan and talked through issues around responsible use.  Tweeting in meetings seems to be a subject that divides – the consensus on the day was that it is another way of opening up democracy to the wider public.  That said, there is a developing view in some councils that it is disrespectful and is an indicator that councillors aren’t concentrating on the business of the meeting.  Another, amongst many, social media dilemmas for councillors and councils.

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