GOV49 Communication Delivery and Social Media in the Public Sector is a two day conference held in Sydney. The first day looked at how to plan social media campaigns, drawing on examples at a local and state and federal level.
I was asked to chair the conference and also provided a presentation exploring the use of social media as an advocacy tool. The presentation drew upon my experiences in Maroondah City Council and my use of social media to advocate for the redevelopment of Ringwood Station into a safe and accessible transport interchange.
Maroondah City Council did not have social media policies at the time, despite its potential in providing direct communications from the council. As a result I utilized my own social media networks, including Facebook, Twitter and Youtube to extend the reach of our advocacy campaign.
My Mayoral year in 2010 coincided with the State Election, providing an opportunity to advocate for the much needed replacement of Ringwood Station. The station fails to meet accessibility standards and its outdated design leads to perceptions of poor safety and a lack of integration with key facilities within Ringwood.
As an outer eastern municipality, Maroondah’s advocacy needed to be noticed by the community, media, local MPs and the the political parties. We needed to be able to reach the community to demonstrate widespread support for the redevelopment, the media to raise awareness, as well as local MPs and the political parties to generate results.
The campaign led to commitments from each of the major parties, including the redevelopment of Ringwood Station from 2014 by the current Government.
The advocacy campaign was successful due to the use of several communication tools. Social media supported the campaign by encouraging community participation and dialogue, by sharing experiences at Ringwood Station. We were able to use this dialogue to encourage ongoing media interest and to gather signatures for a petition calling for action.
The advocacy campaign generated sufficient momentum to be supported by the local MPs and candidates, who in turn pushed their parties to provide commitments. Ultimately the campaign was successful due to the community focus and the use of social media to generate ongoing interest.