Louise Kidney (@loulouk) began the #lgovsm initiative several years ago, as a far-sighted opportunity for local government people using fledgling social media opportunities for a variety of purposes. The aim then, as now, was to help people use social media to share information and intelligence, to grow a network of users, and to raise awareness.
Things were generally rather different back then, of course. #lgovsm was a major lobbyist for the emancipation of social media – Twitter in particular – for it to be seen as far more than a new comms team tool, for example, and to push for responsible experiment with the many opportunities unlocked by social media generally.
With a few gaps in its timeline, a key part of #lgovsm has been the Tuesday evening, hour-long Twitter “discussions” on a series of given topics, or sessions with a guest host. Past and ongoingtopics have been revisited from time to time, to test progress and growth.
Local government has changed a lot during the life of #lgovsm. Social media, and the use organisations and individuals make of it has changed even more so. Both, of course, will always evolve. And so must #lgovsm. For many, the hashtag has already assumed more importance than the Tuesday evening discussion sessions.
It’s obvious to say local government has no monopoly on good ideas or good practice in using social media. What constitutes “local government” itself has also changed a lot. An ever widening range of public services are being delivered by agencies and partnerships, rather than by traditional “in house” local government structures. Sharing information and innovation on the use of social media as an element of digital public services has never been more important, and a wide view of what local government is nowadays needs to be taken to do this properly.
Those of us who have hosted #lgovsm discussions for the last couple of years have for some time recognised that the role of social media in the delivery and management of local services would continue a path of inexorable growth. We also kept an open mind on the added value that the once a week, “are we all sitting comfortably”, Tuesday night session would bring. We feel the point has now arrived critically to question the value of this.
The #lgovsm Twitter hashtag enjoys wider usage than just as a rallying point for those able to sit in on the Tuesday sessions. We want to see this continue, of course. However. we feel it has become increasingly artificial to attempt to corral wisdom and opinions on a given topic into one hour a week. There is no shortage of topics, of course, nor of knowledgeable hosts, advocates and participants, and we’re not suggesting twitter gatherings like that using #lgovsm be abandoned altogether.
We are, however, proposing that the Tuesday evening #lgovsm hour should end, but that the hashtag itself should be used more and more by those tweeting about local services and how local services use social media. The hashtag needs to remain a valuable rallying point for information and sharing.
Maybe this will free up those minded to do so occasionally to set up one-off #lgovsm discussions at other times (and for some, more convenient times). We will ourselves look to occasional good opportunities for others to share their wit and wisdom in this way from time to time – just not regularly at a fixed time once a week.
These proposals are aimed at evolving #lgovsm, not undermining it. The 8.30 #lgovsm session already advertised for Tuesday 16 April will serve as a chance to unpack some of these issues.