Steve Welsby, Communications Manager:
(a) Presented a report which provided the Ethics and Engagement Committee with an opportunity to consider a new Social Media Policy which incorporated aspects such as the Council accounts available for use, employee wellbeing, the best use of social media, personal accounts and use of social media by elected members.
(b) Explained that social media had grown at a rapid pace and had changed the way people and organisations communicated, enabling people to interact with each other by sharing information, opinions, knowledge and interests.
(c) Explained that corporate websites were often no longer the first point of call when people wished to ask questions, so it was necessary to go beyond the use of traditional forms of communicating online to meet the needs of residents and stakeholders.
(d) Explained that messaging could be done instantly and could be far-reaching, which would bring many benefits but also a number of risks.
(e) Explained that the new Social Media Policy laid out how the City of Lincoln Council would use social media, outline responsibility for channels, state the authority’s procedures and help staff and elected members manage risk.
(f) Reported that sections 12 and 13 of the document should be re-numbered as sub-headings (a) and (b) respectively, with the subsequent headings throughout the document being re-numbered accordingly.
(g) Reported that a new member of the Communications Team with significant experience in social media would be commencing their role in February 2020.
(h) Invited members’ questions and comments.
Councillor Thomas Dyer, as an experienced user of Facebook and Twitter, expressed some concerns regarding the draft document. Rather than a policy document he felt as though it was an advisory or guidance document as it was not clear or prescriptive enough about how social media should and should not be used. He added that this was particularly concerning from the perspective of staff as there was a section within the document regarding the possibility of incorrect or excessive use leading to disciplinary action. It was very important, therefore, that the policy outlined clear rules and procedures rather than terminology which could be construed as advice or guidance.
Councillor Dyer highlighted that the document included information on communications governance, information relating to staff and information relating to members. He therefore suggested that the document be split into these three sections to make it clearer, or even create standalone documents for each respective section.
Councillor Dyer asked who had written the document and whether it had been created from a Local Government Association template.
Mr Welsby confirmed that the document had not been produced using a Local Government Association template but had been written by him based upon examples from other local authorities recognised as delivering good practice.
Councillor Dyer was supportive of the re-numbering of paragraphs 12 and 13 to become sub-headings as this made sense in the context of that section of the policy document.
Under the section ‘best use of social media’, Councillor Dyer was concerned about verbal consent ... view the full minutes text for item 42