Councillors should adopt social media

By Robert Washburn

Following a recent Cobourg council meeting, it struck me how the politicians could take a positive step in their public communications. And, considering a company is undertaking a review of the town’s communication strategy, it is appropriate to make a suggestion.

Councillor reports waste a ton of time. In fact, there is a far better way to do this using social media. It would save time, resources and be far more efficient. With the recent columns in Northumberland Today, the councillors have already demonstrated they have the skills.

Rather than stand up and spend nearly 40 minutes to an hour giving individual reports, each one should have a blog, Facebook page and a Twitter account. They already have computers and Blackberry smartphones supplied by taxpayers. So, here is another way to use them.

Every time they go to an event or work on town business, Twitter it. Send out lovely, brief tweets (140 characters) telling taxpayers what they are up to in the moment. It becomes a great way to watch what they do and it is completely transparent. If they want, they could go to Storify, a social media aggregator, to collect all the tweets from the day. These could be posted to a blog or page on the town’s website. It would make a wonderful report and take only a few minutes to complete.

Next, each one should get a blog. Take those columns they write for the paper and post them. Once per week, write up all the activities. Make announcements. Share events. Provide notices of important dates. Do all those things spoken about in the councillor reports and put them up on the blog.

Finally, it is possible to integrate the Twitter and blogs with Facebook. That way, if people want, they can like you and get information. The integration saves the repetitive task of posted to each medium. One post goes to all media.

With all the time it would save councillor, it may mean meeting would be shorter. If they were shorter, maybe we would not need as many. Possible, we could reduce costs by holding fewer meetings. Hey, maybe we could have a part-time council.

The possibilities are endless.