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.


’21st Century Councillor’ Using Social Media to Support Local Leadership: Barnsley

This event has now been rescheduled from the 4th November 2010 to Friday 21st January 2011


Friday 21st January 2011

Digital Media Centremap

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We’re at the seaside today…Scarborough!

Excellent, we’ve made it to Scarborough for the next Councillor Social Media session of the 2010 Yorkshire & Humber Tour. It’s a full house of 15 local councillors, mostly from Scarborough, but also York as well.

Entry 1: We’ve kicked of! Great atmosphere already (maybe the sea-air had something to do with that). @CllrTim and @SimonMagus are the cllrs in the chair, @Gr8governance and @StevenTuck up front and we’ve started with ‘mythbusting’ social media and what all the terms mean…ooh, rapidly moved on to a discussion about blogs and blogging!

(If updates are few and far between, I apologise in advance, not a great connection)

Entry 2: Debating what is acceptable comment for cllrs using social media. Discussion around the YouTube councillor case of using public meeting footage, member of public making twitter joke about ‘blowing up an airport’, through to cllr ‘stoning’ comments’. Ooh, now moved onto referencing @Baskers from a civil servant point of view! Cllrs seeking clarification about what is acceptably said, what not, what they are fearful of or could innocently get caught out on! Hence those previous examples being raised!!

Entry 3: A shift; now the what a blog is, what it can do, what you can do with it, what you can and can’t say, and all those things have been discussed, there’s a clear keen line from room of cllrs of ‘we want to know how to do it’! So, discussion continues and moves to setting up a blog. (Cllr Tim talking about humanising through a blog; more people say hello to you in the corridoor!) Mr Tuck setting up bogus account to show how easy – cllr realisation of this ease filtering through the room! Social Media Surgery time!!

Entry 4: Our blog for today is called ‘In a cupboard in Scarborough’ which we are creating on It’s a collaborative affair with everybody chipping in! “It’s just like sending an email” says Steven Tuck. The template picked, image inserted, publish! Published…and there it is! “Yes, you can preview it before you make it live”, “Yes, there is an automatice timeline, putting newest post at the top”, “Yes, you can take previous posts off…just press delete!”, “Does it pick up the date automatically? Yes, always”.

Entry 5: Getting into more technical discussion; Councillor asks “can you automatically link your blog, so it updates your facebook account at the same time?” Yes, absolutely. That would be extending your online persona then! Cllrs definitely getting social media. Additionally, marketing you/your blog, getting people to read it, is key. Link your traditional leafletting, for instance, making sure you have your blog address on there. Driving traffic, to your blog!

Entry 6: We’re back after lunch! Everybody wants to move on to Twitter. “It’s a blog”, just a micro-blog, limited to 140 characters. All the social media tools are about communtities and networks. To join in these communities, online or off-line, you need to involve yourself. With twitter, the virtual room is of endless proportions and you can choose who you listen to, who you reply to, and through this interaction your community creates itself around that group of people. Twitter, is an on-going conversation, 24-7, never stops…but you can dip in and out as you wish.

Entry 7: Oh, how frustrating! Just got connection back. Sorry folks. There has been a brilliant debate about Twitter for most of the afternoon, with some interesting Facebook speak too. Yes, some of the conversation has been about the usual ‘What’s best?’, but actually, using the word ‘debate’ is miss-use on my part! This has been about how can I utilise these tools, whatever I choose, to connect with my communitities, to reach my constituents, to find out what the real issues are and what an ‘alternative demographic’ is talking about and interested in. Cllrs from the floor leading the exploration of issues and possibilities. Brilliant stuff, from all. Attending cllrs are just pushing and probing all over the place…they’re right on it!

Entry 8: What support are councillors getting from their organisation, from the leadership, from their officers, web-team, political or staff leaders??? What can they do to be able to get access to social media? Instant frustration emanates from cllrs throughout the room! Significant!!

And we’re off…21st Century Councillor: Scunthorpe 2010

Entry 1: We’re finally underway in Scunthorpe for our first session of the 2010 tour of Yorkshire & Humber. There are 10 councillors here to share their wisdom, borrow from ours, and together we’re off on a journey; hopefully this is a journey that won’t end at 3pm, where this session does!

Entry 2: There’s been some great debate and discussion this morning on a range of social media tools. The ‘what’ do I want to use it for argument is prominent, naturally being raised by councillors who already feel they don’t have enough time in the day. Equally, a couple of them drawing out the public/private life debate. Some passionate engagement here, genunine interest, genuine fear, genuine seeking of clairty, and definite understanding that there is some distance in this social media game.

Entry 3: The public/private debate never gets boring. All the same arguments coming out about separating one from the other, or not. Also, lots of discussion around when in these online ‘communities’ somebody starts being abusive or horrible? Well, the ‘community’ will sort that out – self-moderation, looking out for one another!

Entry 4: There has been some great discussion this morning, passionate debate on all manner of aspects of what social media is and why we should use it, what the pitfalls might be and what what the opportunities are. We’re going for more hands on stuff this afternoon; setting up a twitter account, setting up a blog, what sort of online blog site you might want to use. It all sounds a bit tradional training, but @StevenTuck is conducting this bit, so the two don’t actually go together, do they!

Entry 5: Twitter set-up discussion has been talked through and bogus account demonstration completed. Now moved on to talking about advertising on twitter and will it get in the way of ‘me, my tweets and my followers’? Hash tags being covered, and tea-bots, cake-bots etc…  @StevenTuck is now awaiting a response from the custard-cream bot, so he can make a point!!

Entry 6: Quick but important point: By responding to, that is engaging with, a ‘tweeter’ posting negative comments about a council, that tweeter soon made a shift and became more positive! Not only does this highlight the positives of engaging with online communities/individuals, but that social interaction is key, twitter and facebook et al are ONLY the tools – social, social, social!

Entry 7: Moved on from Tweeting to Blogging, and the ins and outs, nuts and bolts of it all. Using the prolific @SimonMagus’s blog as an example for starters, then talking around the merits of the different online blogging tools such as WordPress and Blogger and how easy they are to use – and which is easier to use than the other! The subtleties and opportunities around blogging itself are being explored, and how a blog can be used to contribute to developing your online public profile.

Entry 8: Oh, how the conversation has matured throughout the day. There’s was always going to be some tension and feelings of discomfort first off, as attendees searched for some meaning to why they were here. However, by the end of the morning session there was some definite warming of hearts, some real exploration not simply asking what they could do with it, but the how can they get set up and what is best to use for their needs. This is pretty much why the afternoon session here has gathered a more practical focus. Important to stress that this isn’t how we have directed it to happen, this is councillor led. That has been the key to the whole day, councillors exploring what social media means to them, and the all important wider question, what does it mean to their organisation. So, we’ve gone from what, to why, to where and now, how? Excellent councillor led session.

I can see the social for the's over there, look!

Cllrsocmed Tour Diary – rehearsal?

Cllrsocmed Tour Diary – @gr8governqnce @steventuck @spencerlwilson

Carl and Steve

Well, it’s getting pretty close now. The first date of the tour is approaching so we decided to get together and decide what we were going to do.

You might think that we just throw all this together at the last minute, but fuelled by beer and coffee we have tried to develop and rehearse our set.

Not wishing to give too much away, but we’re hoping to make the sessions councillor-led, with a bit of a structure. Not free-form jazz, more loose jamming.

We met tonight and worked through how we make the sessions interesting, interactive, challenging and most importantly how we make the most of these unique opportunities. Potentillay we have the chance to work with 80 councillors across the region – it’s a real

chance to make a difference, begin to understand the barriers, opportunites and create a new network of like minded people. No pressure then.

We’ll be using all the tools, that was the easy bit. We are hoping to develop something exciting, plant a few seeds of interest and innovation – get a dialogue going. Wish us luck for the first date at Barnsley on the 4th. We’ll keep you updated as part of our tour diary.

tour plan

coffee, paper, pens and phones = a plan

making anti-plans

Calling All Councillors – Tour Dates Soon

Well it’s took some time to plan it but we’re pleased to announce the CllrSocMed tour dates for Yorkshire and the Humber.  Thanks to those lovely folk at Local Govt Yorkshire and the Humber we’ll be bringing the full @gr8governance and @steventuck stage show to a northern town near you (hopefully). We hope to move forward the whole councillor / social media debate a bit further in our region. Whilst the final acts for the sessions are still to be booked (watch this space for breaking news) and some of the finer details, we can confirm the following dates:




cancelledThursday 4th November 2010

Digital Media Centremap





Friday 12th November 2010

Pitwood House, Scunthorpe

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updated 19:45 13/10/10




Friday 19th November 2010

Sea View conference room, Scarborough Town Hall

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Thursday 27th January 2011

Millennium Room, The Carriageworks, Millennium Square, Leeds

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All sessions will take place between approx 11.00 and 3.00 to give you chance to get there.  We’re in the process of sorting out booking arrangements etc and we’re on with the planning.


session planning

session planning