How Waverley Borough Council uses social media

26 Mar 2014, 8:48 pm

Our Really Useful Days are about getting councils learning from each other.

At our Bristol event on social media, Megan Chapple from Waverley Borough Council gave a fantastic presentation on how Waverley uses social media. And she was kind enough to blog about it here:-

Why we use social media at Waverley BC

Social media is a very good way to instantly engage with residents, visitors and businesses and respond to their queries, whether it’s tweeting severe weather information or speaking to an individual about a missed bin collection. We follow and are followed by community groups, other councils and Government bodies and journalists from local press.

Overall, social media allows us to better target audiences, is much faster and is cost effectivewhen you compare it to face-to-face meetings and phone calls.

How we use social media

We manage all our social media accounts via one social media dashboard called Hootsuite. This allows us to manage multiple profiles and measure our social media presence. Hootsuite reports allow us to see which links are most clicked on and what content is shared/retweeted the most, giving us a better idea of the content people want.

Another very useful part of Hootsuite is it enables you to set up streams that include content with specific keywords. At Waverley, one of our main issues is that residents don’t identify themselves as living in Waverley. They associate themselves with their town or village, so we can do keyword searches on these areas. It was also useful during the flooding when specific roads were affected. We could run a stream with the road name and gather more information.

I’m also testing a new social media tool called Tweriod. It’s a free Twitter tool that analyses your Twitter account and followers to give you the best times to tweet. It does cost for a more detailed report though!

Channels we use

We have a FacebookTwitter and Linkedin account and these are all monitored by the Corporate Communications team. Content is tailored to suit the channel – for instance, we only use Linkedin to promote job vacancies.

Twitter is our most active channel with over 2,200 followers and growing. We post several times a day and have regular correspondence with residents through this channel. During the flooding, we saw a big increase in Twitter followers. Waverley was badly affected by the Christmas floods and residents turned to our Twitter account as a source of information and to report problems.

One particular issue was a pumping station which had stopped working, leaving residents without a water supply. Residents sent tweets asking for help. We quickly picked up the issue and within a few hours had a truck of water delivered to the affected residents, whilst keeping them informed on the progress throughout this time.

Lessons learned

It hasn’t always been plain sailing. Our Facebook account is not as popular as Twitter and we believe this is mainly to do with residents identifying with towns rather than the Borough – they are more likely to join a community group for Godalming or Farnham etc. We’ve tried to tackle this by joining these groups as the Waverley account and posting direct to them. This seems to get a much better response from residents and starts up discussions.

When we receive a negative comment, we’ve found that as long as we acknowledge we’ve been contacted, respond in a timely manner and help in any way we can (even if that means signposting to other agencies), people are generally happy that we’ve listened to them.

The future

We’re spreading social media knowledge across our council so everyone can get a better understanding of what it can do for them and their department. We’re encouraging team leaders and web editors to send us content to put out.

We’ve also held workshops with our Councillors who are keen to get a better understanding of how we use social media and how it could work for them to connect with residents. We’re looking to hold more social media focused workshops with them in future.

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