- The top 20 UK councils for online reputation
- Caught in the fray – Basildon Council and the #dalefarm debate
- Twitter Top Tip – @reply vs. direct message
- After the riots
- The Media Mix – News v Blogs v Twitter etc
The Top 20
The top 20 councils ranked by social media sentiment (subject to them attaining a minimum number of references during the month – Districts = 100 mentions, Counties and Unitaries = 300) for this month are:
Gloucester City Council and Sutton Council, who have both appeared before in the Top 20, reach the top of the sentiment chart this month.
The single biggest story in social media this month was without a doubt the clearance of Dale Farm by Basildon Council. The six-acre plot of land in the village of Crays Hill has been used as an unauthorised traveller site since 2001. In July 2011, Basildon Council issued a notice to the travellers to vacate the site, and in the weeks that followed the travellers fought back.
The arguments on both sides are not new – angry residents complain about illegal camping, damage and disruption, while travelling families complain they’re continually moved on by police and bailiffs and subject to constant prejudice. The strength of feeling involved on both sides has inevitably led to an explosion in social media buzz.
The story peaked on 19th September when the scheduled clearance was halted by a last minute injunction. The day’s events saw Basildon Council ‘trending’ on Twitter for nearly eight hours – in itself extremely unusual for a council.
There was a huge spike in online buzz for Basildon Council on 19th September
However, this was dwarfed by the #dalefarm hashtag that has been adopted by Twitter users on both sides of the battle, and which has been used to express extreme views that many commentators say have crossed over into outright racism. This places Basidon Council in a difficult position – how to use social media to inform citizens about events at Dale Farm, and to educate people about the Council’s legal duties, without being dragged into a dirty debate?
Basidon Council has responded by broadcasting frequent updates on its website, facebook page and via Twitter, but it appears to have steadfastly refused to enter into any kind of dialogue in these spaces. This seems to be a pragmatic approach in sensitive circumstances.
Basildon Council has chosen not to respond to Twitter and Facebook messages
It would be wise to remember that a big story like this one will shine the social media spotlight into other corners of your online presence that otherwise might have gone undiscovered. We won’t name any names, but in researching this story we came across tweets from individuals associated with the Council that we cannot imagine were ever intended for public consumption.
Make sure that your officers and Members understand the difference between an @reply and a direct message. Although they are directed at a specific user, @replies are PUBLIC and will appear on the twitter timeline for all to see! If you want to say something privately on Twitter, you MUST use a direct message.
To finish… this is the last Reputation Index to be published under the CouncilMonitor brand! In response to growing demand, we are broadening the scope of our reputation management solution to include all public services, not just local government. So this month it seems appropriate to take a quick look at a story from the wider public sector – in this case, the police.
LGC reports that an independent review of the riots in Wandsworth that saw unchecked lawlessness in Clapham Junction has called on the police to review its use of social media after officers ignored warnings that the area would be a flashpoint.
LGC subscribers can read the full story here: http://www.lgcplus.com/briefings/joint-working/community-safety/riot-review-calls-for-new-social-media-procedures/5035917.article
Buzz and Media Mix
Next, this month’s total references to ‘Councils’ online is:
September has seen a continued recovery in online buzz. Let’s look at the media mix for more information:
Twitter usage continues to grow – just look at how it has roughly trebled its share since this time last year.
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Monthly Buzz Index methodology – Details can be found here
About CouncilMonitor – CouncilMonitor trawls the Internet 24 hours a day, seven days a week, searching through news, blogs, forums and social media sites. It reads through all of this information and summarises what’s being said about UK councils, and can even tell you whether the sentiment is positive or negative (similar to the election worm we have seen at #leadersdebate). The service was launched in December 2009 so is still quite early on, but by measuring a benchmark group of councils on a consistent basis we hope to be able to provide some national trend information relating to what people are saying about their councils – and how they choose to say it.