John Kamensky at GoverningPeople has pointed me to a recent report from the Feis Institute of Government at the University of Pennsylvania entitled “The Rise of Social Government“. At 110 pages the 3Mb PDF download is not a light read but is a thorough study and endorsement of the use of social media across US government large and small. As an example of the numbers involved in using social media in the USA NASA has more followers than the population of Denver, Colorado, whilst The US State Department has more followers than that of Salt Lake City.
The uses highlighted include information distribution but also drawing feedback about graffiti and repairs needed, along with encouraging participation in producing policy. The report considers different ways of managing social media, either central or distributed, along with a variety of ways of getting content approved before publication. There are obviously going to be uses for social media in government, including local government, but before driving potential followers away by tedious or untargetted messages it is probably best to examine a serious report about how it has been successfully used and then considering whether that would work in your own locality.