Headlines: April 22nd, 2009

Social Networking Sites have become a global phenomenon, with communities such as MySpace, Facebook and Bebo reporting user figures in the hundreds of millions. In the last year some councils and other public bodies have moved into the social media, but the trend has now taken a sharp upward turn with the launch of Tweety Hall. The new service connects the public with local politics through Twitter, blogging and other social media.

Tweety Hall allows people to track their local councils and councillors in real time, and to find and follow them, or invite them to get involved in social media if they’re not already doing so. The number of councils and councillors using Twitter is growing by the day with almost 200 councillors, and 90 councils using Twitter, and many more using other social media sites.

The growth of social media coincides with the decline of the local newspaper. With fewer traditional communication channels, making use of the web in this way becomes increasingly important.

This Twittering service for councillors, councils and the public has been launched by members of the LGA Group which includes, the Local Government Association, Improvement and Development Agency and the Local Government Leadership Centre.

Deputy Chair of the LGA Executive, Cllr Richard Kemp said: “From Twitter to Facebook, the rise and rise of social media means that there are more opportunities for councils and councillors to listen and help local residents. While nothing beats talking to residents face-to-face, the world is changing fast and councils and councillors need to keep up.”

“Social media and the massive changes in the way the internet brings people closer together cannot be underestimated, and this is why we have set up Tweety Hall. If we want young people to get involved in politics, to encourage voting and to see democracy as a valuable part of their lives, councils and councillors need to be using this and other social media.”

“All the evidence shows that the better informed residents are about what their council does, then the more satisfied with the council they become,” he added.

Link to Tweety Hall. http://www.lga.gov.uk/lga/cor/page.do?pageId=1804978