William Eichler 16 December 2015

Survey respondents believe social media can save local authorities money

71% of local authorities believe that social media represents an opportunity to make savings, according to a new report.

WhatsApp-ening in #LocalGov Social Media? analysed the social media activity of local government and revealed that 74% of local authorities have a high appetite to develop or maintain a strong social media presence, with 71% of them believing it can help save money.

The study, the fourth by accountancy and business advisory firm BDO LLP, revealed that social media is widely viewed as a useful tool for making day to day council business more efficient.

It also highlighted the important impact that senior leaders have upon social media usage in their organisations, with 74% of survey respondents saying the approach taken by leaders has a significant impact on the rest of the organisation.

Twitter and Facebook, according to BDO LLP’s findings, are the most used sites in local government, with 100% and 90% of respondents using these respectively.

Instagram is the fastest growing social media platform, with 20% of councils using it last year and 38% this year, while Flickr use has only gone up by 4%.

YouTube activity has decreased, and very few councils are using Whatsapp or Snapchat.

Chief executives, elected mayors and council leaders in the North West and in London are leading the way in social media use, according to the BDO LLP’s Top 20 ranking system.

Andy Mahon, Head of Local Government at BDO, said: ‘During the last four years of analysing the social media activity of local government, it is clear that authorities they have made strides in moving from ‘communication’ to ‘conversation’ in terms of how they engage with citizens.’

He continued: ‘Even more encouraging has been the increasing amount of buy-in from senior leadership. Those that have been shortlisted in the Top 20 have been successful in engaging their audiences – both internally and externally – and are using multiple platforms to mix personal and professional content effectively. We firmly believe that the higher the buy-in from senior figures, the higher the success rate will be for councils on social media.

‘However, as the UK’s digital transformation continues, it’s important that they continue to innovate. There are a variety of social media platforms that can be used to convey different messages and there are some excellent examples from across the country. We can expect to see increased activity in Instagram and WhatsApp during the next 12 months.’

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