The other week I came across a cracking little case study. I follow Stockton councillor David Harrington on Twitter (I recommend you do the same - @cllrharrington). On that day he tweeted:
“Received two DM's with ward queries. Thanks to Twitter residents sent me a DM knowing the problems with email.”
Now on the surface this may not seem like such a big deal. Two pieces of case work amongst what I am sure is a heavy volume doesn’t exactly grab the headlines, but it got me thinking. We’ve all begun to depend on e-mail as part of what we do. Like most things its great when it works. After the telephone it’s the main point of contact between residents and their councillors. Expectations have been created. What this little example shows is that there are some real alternatives, especially when the more traditional media break down.
Councillor Harrington was able to let his followers on Twitter know that he wasn’t contactable by e-mail. He was able to use social media to broadcast this message. More importantly he was able to use Twitter as another tool to carry out his ward councillor role.
Now I don’t know the nature of those two pieces of case work, and nor should I, but they could have been urgent issues that local residents needed sorting. Being able to access their councillor in this way meant that their issues were communicated and progressed. There is significant potential in this small case study for councillors and the organisations that support them. We need to explore and embrace the alternatives that can work alongside and complement more traditional ways of working. Powerful stuff eh?