On Saturday 14th July I had a day out in Birmingham. Not for my normal spotting but to attend LocalGovCamp2012. This is a day when all of us Local Gov people get together and share ideas. See what everyone is up to. Ask questions and generally have a good old chin wag.
The venue was Maple House in Birmingham. In the middle of the country to try to make is easy for people over the whole country to attend. To be honest, I wouldn’t say Birmingham is a nice city. Somewhere that needs door staff at McDonalds during the day says it all in my book. The venue itself was OK but very hot inside. At the end of the day I was quite glad to get out into the fresh air to be honest.
This is the first time I'd been to a Local Gov version of these events. Previously I had only attended the UK Gov ones in London, but the format is the same. People pitch in for ideas on subjects they want to talk about and once all the subjects have been finalised, off everyone goes to the rooms where the meetings take place.
Meetings I attended.
First meeting and first problem. When you have people who have chatted to each other over twitter, e-mail and probably face-to-face they build up a certain knowledge of each other. So when the two hosting this meeting about blogging started they assumed that everyone know who they were and I would say that most did. Sorry but as I haven't been part of their in-crowd I didn't know who they were. A small introduction would have helped. They talked about their blogs and eventually blogging in general. Some good advice was given which anyone new to blogging would certainly found useful.
New Social Media
This was a general chat about what new social media channels people are using. It's not all Facebook, Twitter and flickr. We all need to at least be aware of what the next big is might be. New things people are using that will need checking out by me include
Stuart Harrison presented this one. It was great to meet the top man finally. He talked about whether it was possible to create one Local Gov Site. After all we all do roughly the same things. We all collect Council Tax, empty peoples bins, run swimming pools, educate peoples children and so forth. So the question was raised could we all get together and build one website.
Most delegates were agreed that whilst one local gov website was fine in principle, in practice might be another issue. However a lot a people were keen on working closer together and collaborating with each other on sections of their websites. Sharing code and experience. And so Project Maple was born. The name coming from the name of the building we were all in. Stuart agreed to set up an e-mail group for us all to share ideas. Whilst I can see huge issues with this, I do see it as a potentially very exciting project and proud that I am in it at the start.
Social Media Strategy
Lead by John King E-coms manager at Shropshire council, he talked in depth about how Shropshire Council produced its Social Media Strategy. Key points her raised.
Its not about the tools its about the culture – Their Social Media Strategy doesn’t mention a single Social Media channel by name. He firmly believes that how you treat people on one channel should be no different to any other channel.
He said that you needs terms and conditions to cover all channels, so you can enforce policy where you feel people have fallen below the expected behaviour.
He also mentioned that he gave staff training on social media
Finally if staff miss-use social media than that is a management issue rather than an issue with the social media.
I joined this session late after joining the #localgovsm group before realising that it was kinda a closed shop talking about some group they were all members of. I’m glad I did change. Telling stories is kinda like the 'day-in-the-life-of' pieces. Where staff, not just council officers tell their story of what they do day to day. However, Peter McClymont who ran the session suggested that councils look in the wider community for people to feature. This is done with the aim of bringing the community together. One great example he cited was from Kabul in Afghanistan (www.kabulatwork.tv). Defiantly one for the e-Comms teams in councils to look at.
So overall it was a good day. Glad that I finally got to meet the legend that is Stuart Harrison, would have liked to talk real ale with him but no time. Glad that I also met up with other twitter people for the first time face-to-face. But again Mark and Kate we'll have to chat properly next time. Pity I had to rush off so quickly at the end but having a train to catch meant I couldn't stay long. Maybe next time I’ll book a hotel room for the night. Wished they turned the air-con on in the building, phew it was hot and wished they was a meat option at lunch that wasn't spicy, but hey it was free so can't complain that much…