Trust cannot be centralised, it must be embedded in everything you do. This is how social media can help cities create change in a post-truth era says Eddy Adams

Eddy Adams

“Cities should harness the power of social media to talk about complex issues that require citizen buy-in, such as migration, environment and employment… these channels can be manipulated and trolled, but they are the most direct way to build trusted relationships with citizens.”

Why add social media to the mix?
We need new, creative and collaborative ways of working. Social media can play a vital role in the ongoing shift from the old command and control mode. I believe cities should harness the power of social media to talk about complex issues that require citizen buy-in, such as migration, environment and employment. Look at the recent impact on world politics to see the power and the potential of social media for good and for bad. These channels can be manipulated and trolled, but they are the most direct way to build trusted relationships with citizens.

“Digital resources, when used tactically, can help you get things faster and engage people in precise ways.”

Aren’t local authorities engaging with local communities anyway? Why do you need social media?
Look, it’s not an either-or situation. It’s about using the range of freely available tools to supplement and complement your offer. Digital resources, when used tactically, can help you get things faster and engage people in precise ways. We need to be creative and imaginative in how we use these tools, especially if we want to engage with hard to reach communities.

‘It isn’t one person’s job to be social. Trust cannot be centralised. Cities have to invest and develop capacity for all staff to engage with social media.’

Local governments are complex organisations, so where do start?
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach. Cities are dealing with social media in different ways. In some cases, you have digital strategists embedded in the chief executive’s department. At the other extreme, you have cities that still prohibit employees from using social networks in the workplace. The most common configuration is to have the communications team leading on this agenda. Some cities take this a step further and have a designated digital communications person in each department. I think that’s fine, but it isn’t one person’s job to be social. Trust cannot be centralised. Cities have to invest and develop capacity for all staff to engage with social media. So, we have to look at this as a core part of our repertoire, rather than as an optional add-on.

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Abhay Adhikari

Abhay Adhikari

I am interested in the context & values of our Digital Identities.