Local government on Twitter


Having spent a few hours over the past week setting up Medway Council‘s Twitter presence and associated systems, I was planning to write a post about how we did it.

But scanning through my RSS feeds this evening, I spotted this post from Stuart Harrison:

A beginners guide to Twitter in local government

Stuart’s post is an absolutely superb and comprehensive summary of how a council can easily get started with the nuts and bolts of a Twitter presence – based on his experience at Lichfield District Council.

At Medway we’re using Twitterfeed (RSS to Twitter), Twittermail (email to Twitter) and Twilert/Tweetbeep (keyword alerts for Twitter) to make things work.

The only comments I’d add to Stuart’s piece are about how councils can use Twitter – once they’ve got it up and running as a communications channel.

Councils could fall into the trap of setting up Twitter as a broadcast channel – using it to send out mass messages to people that choose to follow the council.

But I think that’s missing the real value of Twitter.

To get the most of Twitter councils need to use the tool to engage in conversations – listening and interacting with residents and other stakeholders in a way that more traditional tools don’t allow to happen.