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Observations in January 2009
- UK local councils tend to use fan pages rather than groups to deliver their services through Facebook. The differences between fan pages and groups are listed in the table below. This informational table was created by Authority Domains and the link can be found here.
- After observing all the councils facebook fan pages, I found Bracknell Forest Council Fan Page the most exciting to watch. It offers a different approach to how local councils can use Facebook to engage with citizens. They have search functions for events and organisations, which I also found on Kirklees Council which has a ‘Search Kirklees’ function. Bracknell also has a focus group, virtual tour, Do it online, google map on their contact us information and podcasts. While it does have other features, these are the features that interests me the most.
- Visible Social Media Activity: Stradford-on-Avon District Council, St. Helens Council, Hillingdon Council, Lichfield District Council, Bracknell Forest Council, Kirklees Council, Barnet Council, Newcastle City Council and London Borough of Southwark.
- Most fans: Barnet Council seems to have a large number of fans which I believe was down to the webteam and consultants effort to increase awareness both online and offline. We shall try to reveal their secrets on their applause worthy success in social media so far soon. Congrats Dom!
- After surveying all the fan pages, not alot of these councils are utilising ‘The Wall’ service, which is my main interest. Hillingdon Council (8 posts) & Barnet Council (31 posts) are the only councils that seem to have visible interactions with fans on their wall. It begs the question on whether if UK local council facebook fan pages were created merely to create presence or a footprint online and deliver feeds or can they truly be effective by being interactive?
- There is 1 facebook fan page that definitely stood out and which is Medway Councils Fuse Festival Fan Page. Medway Council has cleverly used the fan page to promote a local event. It currently has 98 fans (which now includes myself ). Here is a MySpace link for the same event http://www.myspace.com/fusemedway. Well done Simon!
- I almost missed another attractive feature used by Lichfield District Council, which is their ‘Ask us a question’ service. I found this to be a very useful service as the public can ask questions while not exposing the council to unwanted questions or comments on their wall. Well done Stuart! Truly inspired.
Though there may still be a lot of questions surrounding the use of social media; specifically in this case, Facebook, I can see the potential in these services if they were delivered effectively and efficiently used to address the public concerns. Though I have to admit, only the councils themselves know the issues that concern their citizens, therefore only those councils will know how to display and use the services accordingly. With that said, no 2 council Facebook fan pages or groups will or should be identical. However there are a lot of practices that can be adopted across councils to encourage the uptake of their Facebook services.
If you wish to add your council to the list, kindly leave the link or details of your council in the comment box.
And please do correct me if I’m wrong or left anything out. Please forgive me! I’m only human
Hope this post was useful!