SOCIAL NEWTWORKING: A case study on how to use social media to promote countryside

Some things work better on social media than others.

Parking wardens and council tax collectors struggle.

Libraries, parks and countryside can work brilliantly. Why? Because people love them.

There’s several good librarians using social media. Not least the excellent @orkneylibrary.

But  there isn’t many examples of good countryside and park use I’ve seen.

Until now that is.

Countryside ranger Morgan Bowers  is doing some truly great things at Walsall Council. She works for the same authority as I do. But I’d be saying it whichever authority she was working for.

Morgan has set up @walsallwildlife on Twitter and tweets as an real person.

She is leading a team of volunteers recording wildlife across Walsall.   I don’t get newts. But her enthusiasm for her subject I do get.

She tweets about her subject and celebrates a newt find in the same way a football supporter celebrate a 93rd minute winner.

She also talks to people. How refreshing is that?

Rather wonderfully, it works across several platforms. She has also set-up a Facebook page to share her work and also has a lively Flickr stream.

All three are really good examples on how to use each platform. Morgan isn’t alone in Walsall Council’s countryside team in using social media.

Countryside manager Kevin Clements is gradually taking a more active role with Twitter too as @countrysidekev.

Their approach is similar in many ways to @hotelalpha9, the tweeting police officer in North Yorkshire.

A personal face and real time updates that are conservational. It’s a blend that seems to work.

Often, people who work in the public sector think their day-to-day job isn’t that interesting to people.

The fact is any job that you don’t do yourself is interesting to people.  And in 2011, in the public sector why not fly the flag for what you are doing?

Here’s why I think this approach works:

Twitter

A human voice helps put a human face on an organisation.

A niche Twitter stream can appeal to a cross-section of the population.

Responding and listening are good things for an organisation to do. It can drive traffic to other web pages.

It can work in real time.

Facebook

It can connect with people who use Facebook and no other network.

Because half the population are on Facebook in the UK.

It’s good to post pictures here as people can connect with a strong images

Flickr

It’s a good way to showcase images and connect with a wider community. Remember, there’s five billion images on Flickr.

It’s a good way to keep a record of images of what a project has discovered.

It  can can act as a bulletin board to the group and a wider community.

It’s a good way to map the changing of the seasons in an accessible way.

There are a few things that can work in parks and countryside and it’s fascinating to watch innovation in a corner of local government that people have a real connection with.

Pic credits: (c) Morgan Bowers.


One Comment on “SOCIAL NEWTWORKING: A case study on how to use social media to promote countryside”

  1. Richard Overy says:

    Great practical examples of how social media is being used Dan especially Morgan’s work.

    I’ve never seen a newt close up before!

    Richard Overy
    Senior Planning Technician
    Telford & Wrekin Council


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