At the beginning of December I was lucky enough to be invited to speak at the Social Media Roundtable at the Australian Centre of Excellence in Local Government, being held at the University of Canberra. For those of you who don’t know what the ACELG do, they’re doing some great work with social media governance and planning for local government throughout Australia. I previously worked with them on a case study about social media use during the Brisbane floods, which you can see over on IKEN, their Innovation and Knowledge Exchange Network.
There were a number of fantastic attendees at the social media roundtable, with a very diverse range of inputs and opinions on what would constitute a national framework for social media use in Local Government. The aim was to collate ideas and opinions on what would work at a national level for the many organisations who are hoping to or are currently using social media. For me, one of the biggest learnings of the day was that there is a wide disparity between local Council’s and their current use of social media. Some of the smaller Council’s expressed opinions about not having enough staff to resource social media as part of their communications plan, while others were concerned that higher management wouldn’t understand or support their use of social media. In comparison to larger Council’s, such as Brisbane City Council, many of the smaller Council’s are right at the beginning of their journey, and therefore a national framework would need to be very adaptable and generic in places to fully embrace every different Council in Australia.
What would you consider integral for creating a national framework for social media use at the local government level in Australia? There were a number of interesting propositions, including one that stated the most important task should be to encourage Council’s to be innovative and develop new concepts and new approaches. While this of course is important, the overwhelming opinion was that for many, this is so far down the line, that the main thing initially should be to focus on building confidence and capability with social media use first. I have to agree with this approach. As someone who works for the largest local Council in Australia, I think that it’s important to be as strategic as possible, raise awareness, understanding and ability through education and training and then incorporate more ‘innovative’ approaches.
While my role at the social media roundtable was to learn and share experiences of social media, I was also the presenter for the day. I spoke for around 3o minutes on my experience of social media use at Brisbane City Council during the January 2011 floods. As always, I loved having the chance to talk about the experience, even if it was a little rushed, but thankfully it was very well-received. It doesn’t matter how many times I speak publicly on social media use in a crisis, I still enjoy it and still get new questions. It was a great day and I was thrilled to be invited. What are your thoughts on creating a national framework for social media use in Australian local government? Do you think it would be worthwhile, or is it too late, with many Council’s already forming their own plans?