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Connecting with Communities: How Local Government is Using Social Media to Engage with Citizens

  • Year: 2012
  • Author: Howard, Anne
  • Publisher: Australian Centre of Excellence for Local Government
  • Published Location: Sydney, NSW
  • ISBN: 9780987387707
  • Country: Australia

This report examines how Australian local government is adopting and using social media.

Social media refers to a wide range of tools (such as Twitter and Facebook) that enable people and organisations to communicate using internet-based technologies, including smart phones. Social media enables a two-way communication, allowing people and organisations to create and share content in the form of words, pictures, audio or video, in real time, almost anywhere.

The research for this report was undertaken from June 2011 to April 2012. It involved a national online survey by the Australian Centre of Excellence for Local Government (ACELG) and a series of in-depth interviews with elected members, staff and professionals working in local government to gain insights into the ways that councils are approaching the use of social media. 

The research found that there is enormous interest in social media among councils, even councils yet to introduce it into their operations. All council staff consulted during this study strongly believed that social media should be integrated into their council's strategic communications alongside traditional media and face-to-face contact.

The research also found that those councils that do take a strategic approach are already achieving impressive outcomes. Councils are using social media to promote events and activities, reach out and communicate with hard-to-reach groups, develop networks within the community around specific issues, plan and implement consultation processes, deliver services such as libraries, and gain community feedback and reports on problems.

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