This presentation was prepared for a communications module of LGID&#x2019;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&#x2019;s a specific focus on blogs in this presentation - as a councillor&#x2019;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&#x2019;s not about packaging yourself up in a PR kind of way. It&#x2019;s about being yourself - but only a part of yourself to different networks. This isn&#x2019;t deceitful, this is just understanding that you and what you do has great appeal to some, but very little to others. But it&#x2019;s important to remember, that it&#x2019;s not all about YOU. But sometimes it is. As a councillor you do have a particular message to get across and you needn&#x2019;t be shy about it.
It&#x2019;s important to know how the different online tools are beng used and who&#x2019;s using them - but this isn&#x2019;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&#x2019;t a single social media tool which will help you conquer the Internet. But some will help you more than others.
It isn&#x2019;t about ego either. As public servant and a politician, your online presence isn&#x2019;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 &#x2018;real life&#x2019;. It&#x2019;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&#x2019;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&#x2019;s called a social graph. It&#x2019;s a map of all my connections on Facebook - and it maps the interactions betwen my friends. In my wider network, as in anyone&#x2019;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&#x2019;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&#x2019;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
Enhancing your online profile
Sept 2010 www.local.gov.uk
It’s not about tools or egos
By Mikelo on Flickr
...but the right tools and a bit of conﬁdence
An online proﬁle
• Sharing relevant content with interested
• Using your networks to promote
• Identifying new online networks
• Using the right tool for the job
• Helping people ﬁnd you
It’s not just online
If you’re only building an online proﬁle
online; you’ve failed Photo by Dmitry Baranovskiy on Flickr
Why are networks
• Social proof
• May be key driver of behaviour change
• Cognitive surplus - and getting things done
• Helps you to spread your message
Clusters of My home town in TN
LG Group in-laws
services in the UK Expats Uni
only certain networks may help you with
Your network is not the
same as your audience
By marﬁs75 on Flickr
But every member of
your audience has a
And some of these interactions
My 3rd cousin in
Head of a LocalGov
think tank in the UK
Overlapping connections amplify your message
Things to think about
• What online networks are you already part
• What steps could you take to engage
• Which will be the most helpful to you as a
Start a website in
By SqueakyMarmot on Flickr
Why a blog?
• Easily discoverable. Search
engines love them!
• Designed to be engaging
• Can take a highly personal
• Easily shareable content,
readers can share with their
by AnnieMole on Flickr
• Several free platforms
• Easy to use
• Lots of looks
• Can set up in minutes
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.
• Blogger blog
• Local issues
• National politics
• some personal stuff
• Snarky style (not
everyone can pull this
off, but he does) www.cllrtim.blogspot.com
• Self-hosted WordPress
• a ‘general’ blogger - not
particularly focused on
• great writer
• everything from politics
to social commentary to
• LibDem councillor
• Very council focused,
• a very local blog http://iainroberts.mycouncillor.org.uk/
• Blogger blog • email newsletter
• Beautiful design • mix of content
• Portfolio website • clear links to other
• procedural stuff
• personal stuff
• local issues
• some national politics www.jamescousins.com
• self-hosted WordPress
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
Maximise your hits
• Location, location,
• Link to others
• Say nice things about
people and then tell
• Cover local issues
• Be realistic
By .A.A. on Flickr
Let people ﬁnd your
blog where they go
Your RSS publication
blog feed service
Things to watch out for
• Don’t be a muppet
• Don’t bully
• This stuff is permanent
• Beware planning and
• Do not put council logo
on your website
By Looking Glass on Flickr
A couple more things
to think about
• Naming your blog, social
• Be yourself
• consistent blogging
• A clear comments policy
By drinksmachine on Flickr
So what about Facebook?
• Huge membership in the
UK (25+ million
• 2nd only to Google in
• Personal, pages and
• Risks and rewards
Personal For friends and family
Groups For activists, good for campaigns
Pages For supporters
What about Twitter?
• Can be a good source of
• Smaller networks (?), but
tend to be inﬂuential
• Great for networking
with other councillors
who are online
• Good for pushing
• An excellent way to
improve your local
• As good a listening post
as a talking shop
• Like a surgery online,
But does it win elections?
• Probably not
• But how much does
being a great councillor
• Has swayed close
• Has raised money
• Does make it easier to
By arthit on Flickr
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
• Social media community of practice
• Social media examples www.socialgov.posterous.com
• List of hyperlocal sites: http://openlylocal.com/