Social Media, Local Government and the threat of negative backlash….

I recently gave a presentation to a government organization. My research lead me to believe that Social Media is a tremendous asset for local government. Especially considering Canadians are now flocking to the internet like never before, hungry for alternative sources of information other than TV, well maybe that’s just me. ;o) All kidding aside it’s true, recently statistics from Ipsos Reid are proof, Canadians are spending more time online then in front of the tube. There using the internet as there source of information. Good, bad, indifferent?

Some of the reasons why social government are adopting Social Media channels are:

•Inexpensive channel for PR.

•Direct line of communication with constituents. Instantly.

•Increase Accountability.

•Promote Transparency

•Encourage Participation. Crowd Sourcing. Feedback.

•Reach younger audiences.

•Extend reach to people who might not get their news from more traditional sources.

•Budget cuts recently for traditional methods of marketing and advertising.

During my presentation some open and lively debate ensued around the concept of negative feedback/comments from constituents reading local government blog postings. Some of the participants felt they would be overrun by negative comments on certain issues that are already hot topics, causing an endless loop of responding back to constituents because of their obligation to address constituent complaints. I would be very interested in getting feedback from colleagues in the Social Media arena as to how to handle this situation that would benefits both parties. What do you think?

I’ve embedded my presentation: Social Media for Local Government (Canada) – Listen, Engage and Inform June 9th , 2010

[slideshare id=4454820&doc=socialmediaforlocalgovernment-canada-100609125953-phpapp01]