Cllr Simon Cooke talks Social Media

A few words from one councillor to another.  A brief video clip of Cllr Simon Cooke following the cllrsocmed session at Scunthorpe.  Follow Simon on Twitter (@simonmagus) or view his blog.

CllrSocMed:Final Destination…Leeds

@StevenTuck lecturning

Welcome to the last piece in the CllrSocMed tour of the Yorkshire & Humber. This final session comes to you today from Leeds, down at the Carriageworks, Millenium Square. We’re expecting pretty much a full house today, so it’s all hands to the pumps. We’ve also got a lovely view of the Leeds ice rink. Our lead councillors today will be @SimonMagus, Bradford MC, and @ClrAndrewCooper from Kirklees Council. We’ll try and keep you up to date with conversations and debate as they progress throughout the day.

Entry 1: Introductions are underway. Goes without saying that we’re hoping for a good session today. @TimSwift is here from Calderdale Council, Halifax. Fantastic, that’s my home town (rather than my adopted Huddersfield). Also, we have @CarolePattison from our own Kirklees Council. Another brilliant cross section of cllrs is going to make for a really good day.

Entry 2: @StevenTuck starts by doing his ‘what the internet is’ explanation. You can never get bored of the simplicity of the explanation, of his history of the internet, and how it has gone from geekery to an all inclusive medium so people can communicate via twitter, blog etc etc. You don’t have to be Rupert Murdoch to publish your opinion or view point to the world!!

“There is no point of a communications tool being difficult to use” – @StevenTuck. And this, “there is more computing power in this *waves phone* than there was when they sent the first sattelite into space”.

Entry 3: @ClrAndrewCooper, talking about blogging – “As cllrs we’re expected to have opinions. Blogging is a way of getting them out there”. Is also touching on how he has grown with the technology, how he now can do and link to more things and use more tools, that make his presence more accessible.

Entry 4: What do you do about comments posted on your blog? Well, you can set a blog to moderate, so the comments have to come via you first before releasing. However, you’re not necessarily going to get thousands of comments there! And anyway, people who comment more than likely have an interest in the subject matter. Really important for cllrs to make sure they moderate some comments, because if they are ‘unnacceptable’ – in language, abuse, racist – you could labelled as endorsing those! There is a big BUT though – do not refuse release of a comment, just because it disagrees with your opinion as a cllr. It is important to repsond where necessary. What is the point of having a blog if you’re not going to engage with people who have taken the time  to comment? People want to be engaged with!!

Entry 5: You can use your blog to try and just push your political message or view out there – but the social can be just as, if not more, powerful. Expressing the human side of who you are, and what you do,  as a person away from politics, whether that be reading, rock climbing, or work, or where you go with the family…difficulties of parenthood, worklife balance….an endless list…balloon modelling!

Entry 6: A morning dominated by blogging, covering the ins and outs of the whole affair. The interest and focus has been around content of a blog, political and social, and we’ve touched on how easy and/or difficult it is. Conclusion is pretty much that it is as easy or difficult as YOU make it. You can set up a blog that is as simple as sending an email, or develop one to include pictures, photos, video, link to posts or websites. It’s really about exploring – you can’t break the internet!

Our lead and attending cllrs have stepped back a moment from there discussion, while @StevenTuck responds to the question,  what is RSS? This is pretty much how you can grab the link from a webpage or blog and pull it into your own web space.

We’ve sort of come full circle this morning. Early on we touched on ‘blog comments’ and interest, concern and exploration of how you can deal with comments, and our lead cllrs are helping put that into context – “don’t worry about it” is pretty much what they’re saying! Lets also remind ourselves, that in terms of social media, a lot of the discussion we have had is not about the technology and tools, it has been the social interaction or communities that exist!

A brilliant, place to start for cllrs wanting to find cllrs is @TweetyHall!

Entry 7: Moved onto twitter – micro blogging. In context with other social media tools, like flikr, blogging, youtube – all these things rely on you to communicate with people, in order to generate interest. You’re not going to attract anybody to any part of your online presence if you don’t actually  present yourself. The magic power that gravitates people towards you, is you and your interaction with them! Twitter opens up a wide range of opportunities to open up a broad dialogue, through posting links to your blog, photos, other websties and documents.

Entry 8: We’re back, after what was a very nice lunch. So, with appetites satisfied, we’re now straight into creating a blog with our attending cllrs – surgery time! When setting up a new blog, don’t set your password as password – just saying!

Entry 9: That process of setting up a blog is really easy. It took about 10 minutes, which did of course include questions, answers and discussion. Using an application like Blogger.com, which we have just used, well once you’ve gone through the set-up process it is just about as simple as sending an email. No, really, just as easy as sending an email!! Of course, there are other simple blogging tools out there too. Now, from the question being raised of how you drive traffic to your blog (otherwise nobody will know it’s there), the cllrs in the room are asking how you might link your blog to say, Facebook? Observation: We reached this point in last weeks visit to Barnsley, but via a slightly different route, the point being that the natural inquisitive nautre of cllrs exploring the ins and outs of a topic, probably through council meetings and studying agendas and reports, they absolutely know which questions to ask to get to the answers they need – they are…quite…relentless! This is one reason why cllrs are key to driving social media within local authorities 🙂

Entry 10: Local campaigning, use facebook! About you and what you’ve been doing, create a blog! For networking, researching your local area or specific topics, Twitter can be great! They are all social tools, which can be used to push information out, pull information  in, and gather local intelliegence, and which develop greater interaction via human input.

Entry 11: Tagging has been raised and so we respond! It is a way of labelling posts, descriptive words that help your post to be identified. #hash tags are the twitter equivelant to tagging a blog – afterall, twitter is just a micro-blog, so it works the same way. Tagging can be in someways likened to having a filing system, or at least creating one. Tag your posts with a number of descriptors and the potential for them to be picked up by other people increases; for instance, tag them with a place name, your name, subject matter, organisation, geographic location, but also a building name or name of a person.

Entry 12: Well what another blooming interesting day. So much so that we’ve not actually wrapped up yet. Supposed to finish at 3pm and it’s now 3.20pm! These cllrs, I told you they were relentless – you’ve got to love it; the pursuit of knowledge, information and how they can use it. Brilliant! An amazing day and a fitting way to end our tour of Yorkshire & Humber.