#BESTBYWM: Why I’m proud of the Best by West Midlands whitepaper

9374406595_ca3faa4838_oCelebrate what you want to see more of is a good maxim for life. Which is why I’ve been been involved in a project that celebrates some of the best local government social media use not just in the West Midlands but, let’s be honest here, the best in the UK, Europe and frankly the World.

It’s not often in life we put down our pens, pause and actually celebrate the things that we’re good at. In the West Midlands we’re good at social media. Not just good but really good. We know how to do it well and we’d quite like the chance to do more of it, please.

That’s why we wrote the Best by West Midlands whitepaper which I’m hugely proud of. I strongly urge if you are intereseted in digital communications as a comms officer or if you are on the frontline you download it or you take a look at the microsite.

It offers a take on where we are and it shows where we need to go to. Why do I like it? Bercause it shows that people are passionate about improving the services that are offered to people where they live. Even when things are difficult and when their jobs are on the line. One local government officer postponed her holiday just to be at the launch. That’s quite amazing. But not if you know people who are working with social channels and passionately believe in the difference they can make.

What is the Best by West Midlands whitepaper?

This cracker of a thing is a 16-page report and microsite. It’s something that I’ve been involved with wearing a comms2point0 hat for the excellent IEWM. In a word, it is brilliant. Its brilliance comes from the good work being carried out across the region at museums, in woodland, by social care, by people in their community taking pictures and also by communications teams who act as enlightened gatekeepers who are sharing sweets and building capacity.

In one of the slides at the launch event I posted the words ‘Wake up London, you’re dead.’ This is probably overdoing it a bit. But only by a bit. But the underlying point of that statement is this. The community in the West Midlands that helped shape Best by West Midlands are not looking and waiting for an edict from London to do good things. They just are doing good things. They’re looking to other places for inspiration across the region and across different sectors from Monmouth, Cornwall and Northumberland too.

It’s the culmination of five years of work

For me, at any rate, this is a the continuation of a timeline that started five years ago listening to talk of the possibilities of social, to four years ago localgovcamp in Birmingham which changed how I do and think and to events like Hyper WM, brewcamp that I’m involved with and others like UK Govcamp that you can’t help but learn from.

How you can use Best by West Midlands

You can download the whitepaper so that offline people can read it.
You can get some tips on barrier vaulting

You can get tips of barrier vaulting past the gatekeepers

You can – if you are a chief executive or a senior officer – deploy some arguments as to why your organisation should be dragged along.

You can learn more about evaluation and ROI. In short: yes, you can. No, it’s not audience. It’s the numbers that are actually the ones that matter to you most.

You can learn more about the digital landscape in the West Midlands.

Birmingham Pylon

You can use the survey headline results

We surveyed 31 of the 33 councils n the West Midlands and boy we tried with the remaining two. We found that trust and training are barriers and that elected members were using it in greater numbers than senior officers. When 97.5 per cent expected their use to increase this is cause for concern. You can see the full stats here and here is a snapshot.

  •  All West Midlands councils have at least one Twitter and one Facebook account
  •  85% of respondents said that is very important that their councils uses social media
  •  And 92.5% said it is very important to use social media in their roles
  •  Yet only 37.5% claimed their council’s usage was high
  •  And only 25% claimed that their council’s use of social media was effective
  •  47.5% of communications people said that their use was high
  •  Training and trust are the biggest barriers to greater use of social media today
  •  Only 15% of respondents said that there were no barriers

So, what is the challenge?

Have we got everything nailed? Is this just backslapping? Actually, it’s no to both. While we think we’re doing a good job the challenges get bigger. Gritting is one area we’ve got nailed. Everytime we go out we tell people. But if we’re still talking of this as being at the cutting edge of where we are at with digital we will have failed.

The real challenge is to see how social can make a difference where it is needed most. Ask yourself where people within local government are most worried. What keeps them awake at night? Universal credit. Public health. Housing. They’re the big ticket areas we need to tackle that in truth we need to tackle.

Acton Scott, Shropshire

Creative commons credits

Best by West Midlands report http://www.flickr.com/photos/danieldslee/9374406595/

Birmingham Pylon http://www.flickr.com/photos/auspices/3093305495/

Acton Scott Historic Working Farm http://bestbywm.wordpress.com/2013/07/18/twitter-for-acton-scott/

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  1. Best by West Midlands…….a brilliant resource for Brummies and Black Country folk interested in promoting the West Midlands which gave us the world’s greatest playwright William Shakespeare and the Industrial Revolution inspired by those ‘Lunar Men’……Boulton, Watt, Wedgwood, Darwin, Priestley and Withering……those Free Thinkers, Entrepreneurs, Scientists, Inventors and Medical Men who created the Modern World……right here in the West Midlands

  2. Hi Dan

    A healthily enthusiastic write-up of the white paper. Congratulations to you and Darren for pulling it together with IEWM.

    I enjoyed the “Wake Up ….” slide and I like your explanation of it here. I’d add that I think a lot of people in local government who have picked up and run with social media have become more independently minded about their work. This is *usually* A Good Thing.

    So it’s not just that us provincials aren’t looking to the capital to be told how to do things, but also that individuals are feeling a bit more emboldened to develop and pursue their own ideas in their workplace.

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