As part of the work we’re doing for the Networked Councillor project we have been looking at how many local authority members in the East of England region use Twitter. While, if you included district councils and parishes, there are thousands of councillors in the region, it’s a much smaller number if you look just at counties and at unitary authorities – as we have done in the West Midlands and in the South West of England already.
The technique we’ve developed, largely carried out by my colleague, Andy Baker, is to grab the lists of councillors from council websites and then search for the councillors with their names on Google (essentially “Twitter+[councillor name]”). While it’s not entirely failsafe, it has proved far better than using Twitter lists, which can often be incomplete or just out of date.
Out of the 680 councillors at unitary or county level, 94 have Twitter accounts. That’s 13.8 per cent of the councillors. As in the case of both the South West and the West Midlands, councillors in some councils are much more likely to have Twitter accounts than others. In this case, it’s Thurrock and Peterborough, both with more than 20 per cent of councillors with accounts, that appear to have in this case made the greatest strides in terms of their use of social media.
So why would we do this?
Other projects are keeping track of overall numbers of councillor Twitter users, but having a regional comparison is useful, if only because it demonstrates (increasingly) that social media has been adopted with great variation between neighbouring authorities. It’s also interesting to note that, in some cases, unitary authorities are doing better than the counties. Of course, we haven’t looked at the numbers of district councillors using Twitter and these numbers might take care of this difference.
Networked Councillors update
If you’ve read the previous Networked Councillor posts recently you might already know that we had to cancel the meeting at which the first version of the Networked Councillor report was to be circulated. At that meeting the Networked Councillor report, written by Catherine Howe, would be presented so that attendees would have the chance to feed back their opinions and feelings – and make suggested changes – before a final version of the document, taking these into account, could be published.
That was all going to happen on Friday – and in its absence we’re now looking how we’re going to make sure we get the same feedback, but without the meeting. While we know this will involve sharing the document online, we’ll be able to tell you more about the plans very soon.