Enhancing your online profile, for councillors


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Tips for enhancing your online profile as a councillor, with a particular focus on blogging. Delivered as part of the LG Improvement and Development's Leadership Academcy programme for councillors

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  • This presentation was prepared for a communications module of LGID’s Leadership Academy - courses focused on local political leadership
  • An online profile can specifically be the information that you share about yourself on various tools. But this session is focused on your wider presence on the Internet - with a specific focus on your digital footprint. There’s a specific focus on blogs in this presentation - as a councillor’s basecamp.
  • So what is an online profile? Is it brand me? Is trying to package myself - as whatever? In a narcissistic way. No, it’s not about packaging yourself up in a PR kind of way. It’s about being yourself - but only a part of yourself to different networks. This isn’t deceitful, this is just understanding that you and what you do has great appeal to some, but very little to others. But it’s important to remember, that it’s not all about YOU. But sometimes it is. As a councillor you do have a particular message to get across and you needn’t be shy about it.
  • It’s important to know how the different online tools are beng used and who’s using them - but this isn’t about mastering Twitter or being the King or Queen of Facebook. This is about choosing and using the right set of tools to get your message across. The sad truth is that there isn’t a single social media tool which will help you conquer the Internet. But some will help you more than others.

    It isn’t about ego either. As public servant and a politician, your online presence isn’t about how great you are. But lack of confidence is one of the biggest stumbling blocks to people succeeding online and sharing content.

  • Online needs to reflect what you do in your job as a councillor as a citizen and in your ‘real life’. It’s not about getting followers or readers - it is about supporting your citizens, sharing information. Much of the real work is done listening to constituents - but you can remember online, too.
  • People are not as influenced by facts or reasons as they would like to believe. Networks online have signficantly lowered the cost of organisation which makes it much easier for people to organise on local, national or international issues than ever before. This can work for you or against you.
  • OK - so let’s use my networks and my messages as an example. I have several objectives - some of them are related to my programmes of work, some are related to my personal life and I even have some political points to get across, too - but very, very carefully.
  • This is what’s called a social graph. It’s a map of all my connections on Facebook - and it maps the interactions betwen my friends. In my wider network, as in anyone’s wider network - there are clusters of people who have connections with each other. You could do this for any network, but Facebook makes this particulary easy and there are several applications which allow you to do this.
  • As a councillor all of the networks that you’re involved in - online or offline - can have some benefit to your online profile and the work that you do, but others will have little or no relevance - even if they want to be helfpul. Some of your networks - while congenial - can be detrimental to your political ambitions or your immediate message.
  • Different online tools and the audiences they reach will map differently with your networks.

  • Every member of your audience has a network - many of these will be online. Help make your readers promote your message to your network by making it easy to share.

  • There are different views about how political you should be. Some handle this very well and make it a feature of their blog. But as a councillor, you have your own local niche - so exploit this - don’t try to compete with the big political bloggers.

  • There are different types of accounts and features within Facebook - and councillors can use these in different ways.

  • There are a growing number of these local social networks - sort of like Facebook but only for a particular area. They share news, talk about issues. Councillors who engage with these positively have found their online profile grow. You can also link and share your blog or other online profiles here (but only do so when relevant!)

  • Enhancing your online profile, for councillors

    1. 1. Enhancing your online profile Leadership Academy Sept 2010 www.local.gov.uk
    2. 2. What’s an online profile?
    3. 3. Is it Brand ME? I’m special (?)
    4. 4. It’s not about tools or egos By Mikelo on Flickr ...but the right tools and a bit of confidence never hurts
    5. 5. An online profile • Sharing relevant content with interested communities • Using your networks to promote • Identifying new online networks • Using the right tool for the job • Helping people find you
    6. 6. It’s not just online If you’re only building an online profile online; you’ve failed Photo by Dmitry Baranovskiy on Flickr
    7. 7. Why are networks important? • Social proof • May be key driver of behaviour change • Cognitive surplus - and getting things done • Helps you to spread your message
    8. 8. Let’s talk about me...
    9. 9. My Facebook Friends
    10. 10. Clusters of My home town in TN networks LG Group in-laws Dad’s family Digi public services in the UK Expats Uni Local politics only certain networks may help you with some goals
    11. 11. Work blog Personal blog LinkedIn Twitter CoP Anonymous networks
    12. 12. Your network is not the same as your audience By marfis75 on Flickr
    13. 13. But every member of your audience has a network....
    14. 14. And some of these interactions are unexpected My 3rd cousin in Iowa Head of a LocalGov think tank in the UK Overlapping connections amplify your message
    15. 15. Things to think about • What online networks are you already part of? • What steps could you take to engage further? • Which will be the most helpful to you as a councillor?
    16. 16. Start a website in minutes By SqueakyMarmot on Flickr
    17. 17. Why a blog? • Easily discoverable. Search engines love them! • Designed to be engaging • Can take a highly personal approach • Easily shareable content, readers can share with their networks by AnnieMole on Flickr
    18. 18. Here’s how • Several free platforms • Easy to use www.blogger.com • Lots of looks • Reliable • Can set up in minutes www.wordpress.com
    19. 19. Cllr Andrew Wallis, Ind, Cornwall The hardest part to blogging is starting the blog and what subject you are going to cover. I started the blog slightly tongue-in-cheek, but quickly realised this needed to change to a more professional approach, but without compromising who you are. You should give a brief background to who you are and what roles you cover.   A blog should reflect the personality of the author. It should contain humour and a more down to earth approach that people will find easy to read. Any technical issues should be briefly explained, but not to any great length. My blog covers all issues that I face including policy and local issues. It’s a good way to engage with your electorate. I also link my blog to Facebook and Twitter. In fact I get more hits via Facebook to my blog than any other medium.   I do believe that you should try and make your blog apolitical, not easy for those who are in a party, but there is nothing worse than reading a blog that is nothing more than repeating party mantra. I would also link other to other blogs, no matter what party they are from. It gives your readers a more balanced view to some important issues. You generally find that if you link a blog, they will link your blog from theirs.   An important aspect of blogging is to have fun. There is nothing worse in reading a blog when the author lacks enthusiasm in what they write. Also, post regular and try to keep the post short(ish). You have more chance of the reader reading the whole article that way. Use pictures. I did not start out using them, but now I try and use a picture or two in every post. It makes the subject more engaging to your readers.   Allowing people to comment on your posts is a must. That way the reader feels like they have some ownership of the blog. As long as you spell out a few simple rules to what you will allow to be published. It’s also a good way to gather people’s views on a subject, especially when you might have to make a decision on that subject later. I would also publish comments that disagree with what you write.   http://cllrandrewwallis.blogspot.com/
    20. 20. Blogging as a basecamp photos Paper video
    21. 21. Tim Cheetham • Blogger blog • Local issues • National politics • some personal stuff • Snarky style (not everyone can pull this off, but he does) www.cllrtim.blogspot.com
    22. 22. Sara Bedford • Self-hosted WordPress • a ‘general’ blogger - not particularly focused on council work • great writer • everything from politics to social commentary to recipes www.sarabedford.org.uk
    23. 23. Iain Roberts • LibDem councillor blogging platform • Very council focused, procedure, service information • a very local blog http://iainroberts.mycouncillor.org.uk/
    24. 24. James Cleverly http://jamescleverly.blogspot.com/ • Blogger blog • email newsletter • Beautiful design • mix of content • Portfolio website • clear links to other profiles
    25. 25. James Cousins • Data • procedural stuff • personal stuff • local issues • some national politics www.jamescousins.com • self-hosted WordPress
    26. 26. Plug your blog • On leaflets • On party websites • On your council profile (if they let you) • In local networks • with other blogging councillors, activists • on other networks - and this can be automated
    27. 27. Maximise your hits • Location, location, location • Link to others • Say nice things about people and then tell them • Cover local issues • Be realistic By .A.A. on Flickr
    28. 28. Let people find your blog where they go Your RSS publication blog feed service
    29. 29. Things to watch out for • Don’t be a muppet • Don’t bully • This stuff is permanent • Beware planning and data protection • Do not put council logo on your website By Looking Glass on Flickr
    30. 30. A couple more things to think about • Naming your blog, social media accounts • Be yourself • consistent blogging • A clear comments policy By drinksmachine on Flickr
    31. 31. So what about Facebook? • Huge membership in the UK (25+ million accounts) • 2nd only to Google in Traffic • Personal, pages and groups • Risks and rewards
    32. 32. Using Facebook Personal For friends and family Groups For activists, good for campaigns Pages For supporters
    33. 33. What about Twitter? • Can be a good source of content • Smaller networks (?), but tend to be influential • Great for networking with other councillors who are online • Good for pushing content
    34. 34. Neighbourhood networks • An excellent way to improve your local profile • As good a listening post as a talking shop • Like a surgery online, but busy!
    35. 35. But does it win elections? • Probably not • But how much does being a great councillor win elections? • Has swayed close elections • Has raised money (nationally) • Does make it easier to By arthit on Flickr organise
    36. 36. Things to think about • Identify a list of sites you want to link to • Think about what you want to blog about • What will your comments policy be? • How will you let people know you’re blogging?
    37. 37. Additional resources • http://socialmedia.21st.cc • Social media community of practice www.communities.idea.gov.uk • Social media examples www.socialgov.posterous.com • List of hyperlocal sites: http://openlylocal.com/ hyperlocal_sites?country=England
    38. 38. Contact me • ingrid.koehler@local.gov.uk • www.twitter.com/ingridk • www.ideapolicy.wordpress.com