Social Media Risks and Rewards at AMO 2011

I presented yesterday at the Association of Municipalities of Ontario conference with Brian Lambie of Redbrick Communications. Brian gave great practical insight on the messaging municipalities should strive for in their social media initiatives and I discussed the kind of control structures that are necessary for reaping the benefits of social media without excessive risk.

This wasn’t new content for me, but the audience – about 70% elected officials – was. This led to a rewarding Q&A.

A Kingston councilor noted that Kingston has adopted a “no handhelds in council rule,” a concept that received endorsement from another councilor in the audience despite his acknowledgement that the pressure to deal with handheld communications in long meetings can be significant. I tied the rule back to a council’s interest in decorum, transparent dealing and perceived transparent dealing.

A mayor of a different Ontario municipality raised a good question on creating separate social media profiles for use in support of election campaigns. Although an incumbent councilor’s legal status does not formally change into and out of campaign periods, strict campaign finance requirements may justify completely separating communications made in the capacity of office holder from communications made in support of a campaign. This is a good issue that I was not aware of prior to His Worship’s input.

Thank you to AMO and to Brian and his staff, who created the slides below. I’ve also linked to the State of Victoria’s wonderful social media awareness video, an example I used to make the point that municipalities might want to lead with an internal communication campaign rather than a “policy heavy” approach.

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