Last week we had a good old fashioned tweetchat about how scrutiny teams can make best use of twitter. We used the #scrutinytweets hashtag if you want to check it out.
It was initially planned as an exchange between the Swansea and Birmingham teams but others joined in - all in all it was a lively and thoroughly enjoyable hour so thanks everyone who chipped in, hope you found it useful.
By the way, if you are thinking about using social media for scrutiny you might also like this piece I wrote after after the Centre for Public Scrutiny ScrutinyCamp event in 2014.
Anyhow, here are the four tips from the tweetchat that I summarised at the time:
1. Twitter is one small part of a wider approach to public engagement for scrutiny
Yes, use twitter but it is not a panacea and not everyone uses it. However, it is relatively low cost to use so look for the things it does do well.
2. Use team accounts but also look at using individual accounts as well
Team accounts should be the default. They are good for presenting the formal face of scrutiny but there may be times when a more personal touch is required. Use the initials of the individual tweeting in tweets or cultivate 'professional' accounts for team members. As scrutiny officers we know all about being careful with what we put into the public domain - so it shouldn't be a problem right?
(There does seem to be a decline in team accounts recently by the way, it may be that they are seen as an additional cost which would be a shame if true. Even if a team account is not an option I still think that individual scrutiny officers can use twitter to add value to their practice without it being too much of a song and a dance...)
3. Tagging really helps to get stuff out there and is a 'tap on the shoulder' for people who might engage / share
While there is nothing wrong with just 'putting stuff out there'- including one or more twitter handles in a tweet makes sure that it reaches the people that it should. People follow so many accounts they can easily blink and miss something.
Did you mention an organisation in a meeting? Tag them. Did you want an organisation to complete an online survey? Tag them. Did you want councillors to share their scrutiny work with residents? Tag them. Did you want an evidence giver to know that the report they contributed to has been published? Tag them.
The people you tag might also be more inclined to share stuff if it is directed at them.
By the way, hat tip to the Essex Democratic Services for the 'tap on the shoulder' metaphor.
4. Scrutiny teams should make more use of twitter to share practice and possible joint projects
Finally we agreed that we all should be much better at using twitter to work together as scrutiny teams.
Lets do it.