Being a real authority

Interesting title ‘Local Authority’. I work for one and my interest is cultural change through innovation. And lately I’ve been looking at that name in a different light. Here in Shropshire, we’ve been slowly building a family of social media accounts across a range of services and the old stalwarts of Facebook & Twitter are the foundation stones. There’s still a bit of hearts-and-minds stuff to do to help colleagues see the benefits of going where the conversation is but we’re getting there. Now, my interest is turning towards service-related blogs.

Recently, I’ve been describing to colleagues the notion of being not just a local authority in the institutional sense but an authority on key matters, locally. So the term local authority can have a different meaning. Each part of our organisation has access to privileged information. Not privileged in the top secret sense, just privileged in the sense that we hear about it first. There’s an audience for that. A while back, we adopted the Birmingham City Council model of creating our own online newsroom as the primary source of council news. But social media can also empower frontline officers and managers to be the news provider for their service; becoming advocates for the work they do as well as responding to the conversations that the information sparks. Look at the work that Wolverhampton Parks have been doing on Twitter, for example or Acton Scott Museum here in Shropshire. But Twitter and Facebook have their limitations. A blog can tell the whole story. Our Shropshire Family Information Service has already shown colleagues the way in terms of blogging. And kudos to @katebentham for that.

There are multiple audiences for this kind of content. Broadly, our customers but also stakeholders, partners and businesses in the sector. Fellow professionals too as well as news agencies and the media in general. Guest blogs from any one of those groups adds a new dimension to the output and adds another level of advocacy.

There’s a wealth of stories to tell and who better to tell them? Even as we undergo unparalleled structural change we still need to communicate what we do and why we do it. In that context, maybe ‘doing’ social media starts to look less like a chore and more like a necessity.



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