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Twitter Guide For Local Government

Rodney Weidemann on how Twitter can be a valuable platform for local government employees to enhance their presence in communities.
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Twitter is an online networking platform that allows people to share their thoughts and ideas with others, particularly with those people who have similar interests. It is therefore a fantastic place to network and collaborate, not to mention a good platform to screen the latest news and views, and to create relationships with people you might not otherwise have met.

The site also provides a new channel to get your message across to people you may not otherwise be able to reach, and it encourages two-way communication by allowing people to directly engage with you.

It is a simple way to find out what is going on in the world, and a great place to share information, links and views, making it an effective signposting network for people in local government.

As a platform on which people from government, community organisations and even ordinary citizens can share experiences, collaborate on ideas, and offer support and motivation to one another, you will find that in less than 140 characters, you can inform hundreds of people about important issues relating to local government.

How it works

Becoming a Twitter user is really simple. Visit, register on the site with an email address and password, and you’re good to go.

When registering as a local government employee, make sure your profile reflects your professional capacity in the sector. Also, it may be useful to include links to websites where people can complain or congratulate local government.

Get started by following some interesting people, posting a link to something interesting or simply saying hello to someone and starting a conversation.

You should look to follow certain interesting or high-profile people – start by picking a few names from the easy-to-use search field. Following the right people will mean they are more likely to tell others to follow you.

Another easy way for beginners to get started is to begin by retweeting interesting things that others have posted. However, always be sure that what you retweet is something worth sending on – you don’t want to be tripped up or embarrassed by it later.

Twitter works best when you engage all that it has to offer.

How it can help you

Twitter allows you to listen to different opinions, pick up on community news you may have missed, and provides instant access to breaking news. More critically, it offers symbolic openness or accessibility, and allows citizens to communicate directly with you.

It can also open up new networks, allowing you to be transparent about what you do and be more connected to citizens. This further enables access to new concepts and ideas – things that get you thinking in new directions.

The site provides access to a whole wealth of new information about local government, thanks to various networks, and specific conversation threads. It also enables you to learn what others are saying about your department, yourself or the work being done – and, more importantly, it gives you the opportunity to respond.

What to watch out for

There are a few things you need to beware of when using Twitter. First, ensure that you are clear in your profile, whether you are commenting as an individual or as a member of your local government team.

Second, think carefully about anything you post – even in conversation with someone. There is always a risk that your words will be retweeted, so don’t say anything you wouldn’t wanted to be quoted as saying.

Remember that if you retweet something without any comment, people will likely assume you are supportive of the point. Also, always read anything you retweet properly before you send it on, in order to avoid later embarrassment.

Finally, always remember your manners, respect the confidentiality of conversations at work, and never forget that Twitter is a conversation tool – so you need to listen as much as you talk.

Happy tweeting!

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