How well is your local council using twitter?

In a recent post, we showed that the majority of local councils in Scotland were now using twitter as part of their communications mix. However, most were still at the ‘testing the water’ stage using twitter to broadcast messages rather than for customer engagement.

The above conclusions were based on a small sample of 40 tweets from each council using twitter. The new twtrland.com web site allows a more detailed evaluation to be undertaken covering the twitter activities of local councils.

Attached to this post, you will find a detailed breakdown of the how Scottish local councils are using twitter. Key points to note:  

• 29 out of the 32 local councils in Scotland are active on twitter. We would be grateful for any information on the three missing accounts for East Dunbartonshire, Shetland Islands and the Western Isles. As stated in our previous post, the position of the former is interesting. There is an unofficial ED Council twitter account with a message to the council that if ‘they wish to take over this account please message us on twitter

• In terms of year of establishment, 17 out of the 32 councils set up their twitter accounts in 2008/09, 11 in 2010 and one more recently in 2011

• The combined number of followers for the 29 accounts is 63,878 (a small percentage of the total number of twitter users in Scotland). This represents an increase of 7,764 new followers since our previous post at the end of July i.e. an increase of 14%. The two largest councils, Glasgow and Edinburgh, account for 33 per cent of all followers

• The 29 councils have sent a total of 32,485 tweets, an average of 1,120 per council. However, significant variations exist in post frequency. Only three councils post an average of 5 or more tweets per day (Stirling, Fife and South Ayrshire). Twenty four councils post twice per day or less. This is a very disappointing statistic given that many councils have been active on twitter for a year or more.

• One of the most interesting parts of the table is the breakdown by type of tweet. A full 86 per cent of all council posts were ‘plain tweets’ or tweets with ‘links’ (mainly to council specific information). By comparison, only 4 per cent of tweets were ‘replies’. In 17 councils, over 90 percent of all posts were ‘plain tweets or replies’.

The new evidence presented above fully supports the conclusions of our previous post that the majority of councils in Scotland are using twitter as a broadcast rather than engagement channel. This is a very disappointing finding especially in ‘National Customer Service Week’. Used effectively, twitter can deliver enhanced customer service at low cost. The evidence from our last two posts suggests that much progress still needs to be made before councils in Scotland are leveraging the full potential of twitter as a platform for customer engagement.

As usual, comments and feedback are very welcome. In particular, we would welcome comments from colleagues working in the public sector. What progress do you think has been made? What are the barriers that need to be overcome? In an era of tight public sector spending, would the more effective use of social media allow local councils to deliver more for less?

How well is your own council doing? Put their twitter address into twtrland.com and see!

Take care


Scotland’s Local Councils Twitter Breakdown by Type

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