UK Councils Social Media Reputation Index for June 2012
- The top 20 UK councils for new online buzz
- Spotlights stories:
- #toonflood – the evolution of a hashtag.
- Bloggers & Tweeters UNITE!#
- Buzz & Media Mix and Council Service Buzz
The Top 20
These are the councils that have seen the biggest increases in the volume of online buzz they are attracting. The biggest movers (subject to them attaining a minimum number of references during the month – Districts = 100 mentions, Counties and Unitaries = 300) for this month are:
Now let’s take a look at some of the stories behind the buzz...
#toonflood – the evolution of a hashtag
This summer’s weather has been a big topic of conversation, particularly the end of June when many parts of the country experienced significant rainfall and disastrous flooding. Major events like these tend to bring people together as necessity to cope with situations. Social media, and Twitter authors in particular, has really taken off as a useful media through which to communicate important information and share a common experience.
Take for example #toonflood. Set up by Newcastle City Council to aid their communications strategy during recent floods in the Tyneside area. #toonflood has expanded to embrace lots of different aspects of managing a flood situation. News channels, local media, travel and transport organisations picked up on it and Newcastle University adopted the hashtag to inform a research project around the floods. The tag became popular with citizens when describing how the flooding was affecting them. We also saw local businesses and organisations get involved and use the opportunity as a marketing tool. This was a great example of devising a catchy hashtag that can go on to create a real buzz around a story and develop into a theme in its own right.
Bloggers & Tweeters UNITE!
Our two big stories in June were both in the national news last month but there were some significant differences in the source of the buzz they generated.
Argyll and Bute Council came into the spotlight when it stopped a local schoolgirl from taking photographs in her school. Young Martha Payne starting recording and reviewing her school dinners through her blog Neverseconds back in April. Martha, or “Veg” as she is better known to her readership, then became involved in a charity Mary’s Meals which helped to raise funds for school meals in Africa. Her blog increased in popularity, both at home and worldwide, and she was soon appearing in national news. Unfortunately at this point the council decided to intervene, causing outrage from many followers and interestingly from fellow bloggers. Just look at the number of mentions Argyll and Bute received in June.
The sheer volume of mentions for a small district is surprising but we noticed the exceptional level of blogging activity that occurred as a result of this story. This is quite unusual as bloggers normally represent a relatively small proportion of social media buzz. In this case it was definitely case of Bloggers uniting! We’re pleased to say the council reversed its decision, Martha continues to blog and she has managed to raise over £110,000 for her charity.
In contrast the other big story that hit last month emanated from Belfast City Council who have been involved in a long running saga with animal rights campaigners who have been trying to overturn the council’s decision to put down a pit bull cross breed dog by the name of Lennox.
Furious that the dog had never caused harm and was allegedly being discriminated on the basis of breed, social media authors have been able to canvass a large volume of support and awareness throughout a 2 year appeal process. This culminated in a big push in June before the appeal deadline expired .
Comparing the source data to Neverseconds’ above we can see a greater percentage of activity on Twitter. It’s interesting that different stories can impact on different audiences and their use of social media. It’s also worth considering how these channels can be used by public sector organisations to manage their reputation and communications initiatives in future.
Buzz & Media Mix and Council Service Buzz
Next, this month’s total references to ‘Councils’ online and it looks like things are on the up again. We have a new high as the activity for our control group exceeds 20,000 mentions and the trend in social media activity continues upwards.
Twitter dominated the June activity with over 52% of mentions coming from this source. The circa 12,500 tweets picked up for our control group is 3 ½ times more than June 2011. Whilst key topics such as the weather and breaking news stories have affected the overall level of activity – there is no doubt that the Twitter platform continues to grow in popularity.
Most active council services in June were Planning and Building Control, Libraries and Adult Social Services.
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Monthly Buzz Index methodology – Details can be found here
About PublicServiceMonitor – PublicServiceMonitor 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.