Newhaverin Leith and life

3Jul/111

Local government, community groups and social media. Do you get it?

Last year I was asked to co-facilitate a break out group about using social media for community engagement at the annual meeting of Edinburgh's Community Councils. My partner for the evening was Martin Gallacher of Queensferry and District Community Council that, at the time, was the first Community Council in the city to use Facebook to communicate with existing members and to attract new members.  It was all so groundbreaking and, despite the usual naysaying about the security of Facebook, people seemed interested in learning more about using social media, and the web generally, to engage people.

A year on and I was back with Martin and my work colleague Graham to the same meeting and the same breakout slot. Martin had a lot of really interesting updates including demographics (some mysterious) and good examples of engagement and sharing information through members posting photos and comments and Martin using Notes to present meeting minutes. Graham, who manages Edinburgh Council's South West Neighbourhood Facebook page, headed up the group with Martin this year (I was on the wings filming what turned out to be a horrible video) and he had a lot of good things to say about local government's place in the social media world- something that is still really hard for some people to get their heads around. Our audience was again mostly interested- there was furious note taking and great questions- with the obligatory cynic striking the balance. I think between Graham and Martin alone there is good practice to reference for Community Councils to get stuck in, however, I think there's a skills gap and I really hope that groups set up to help communities learn about using social media, like Edinbuzz, can be allowed to grow and reach out to share their expertise.

I think social media is ripe for local government and community groups to take advantage of. The benefits are immense and we just need to find and establish a way to get people going.

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  1. Just to say your presentation last year was really good. A lot of food for thought and new ideas. At the time I was fighting with the red tape to get things off the ground for us and it was great to know I wasn’t the only one who saw the potential….or faced the challenges.

    SQ have totally led the way and now others are following. Check out Clovenstone Neighbourhood Council’s Facebook page.


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