There has been one topic of discussion that dominated this week and that was of course Gary Lineker and his famous tweet that almost brought the Director General (and former Tory Council Candidate) Tim Davie down when numerous BBC reporters walked out in solidarity with Gaz and strings of players and clubs refused to take part in interviews for BBC sports programmes.
In the olden days news could take days, weeks or even months to travel. You got your fix of news when you got your printed newspaper in the morning. Government ministers could also control the news better by having a word with the editor or in some cases slap on an injunction to prevent publication.
Those days have gone because now everyone can publish their thoughts at the press of a button (you are reading this, aren’t you?) and news can travel instantaneously around the globe. And whoever breaks the news, can set the agenda or use their base of followers to influence that agenda.
There is no doubt that social media contributed to the fall of Boris Johnson, the very quick demise of Liz Truss and is making Rishi Sunak’s life very difficult. In the US we saw the power of social media with Trump who certainly never spared us any of his thoughts… “covfefe” still has people wondering and the 6th January storming of the Capitol certainly had its roots in Big Don’s Twitter rants.
Those who use social media also needs to realise that they have a responsibility to use this powerful tool for good and not just to provoke or vent anger and frustration.
I have certainly found that the tool can be one for good if used in the right way. It enables you to influence the agenda on a variety of topics. You can break the good news about the benefits of house building and the associated benefits to a much wider public. It enables us to reach those people who lead busy lives and don’t have time to come to the “drop in exhibition” where you are showing your plans in the village hall on a Friday afternoon. (Amusingly, we studied patterns of engagement and peak time is between 11pm and 1am because no one reads books when they go to bed, we all scroll through our social media!)
It’s also very interesting to observe the reaction to HM Treasury’s budget yesterday. No sooner had the words left Mr Hunt’s mouth about Corporation Tax increasing from 19% to 25% and social media reacted… this one was quite striking: “For this government to stay in power beyond the next election, it needs to promote housebuilding. It is such a huge and vital industry that supports the wider economy, and the lack of appropriate, sustainable, and affordable housing may become an increasingly divisive political issue. Hiking Corporation Tax isn’t going to help that!”
So, the moral of the story is, use social media wisely, it is a very powerful tool and when you have opened Pandora’s box, it is open! Just make sure it is hope that emerges.
Until next week,
Ps. We are looking at all the Councils across England in relation to the May Council elections. You can see our headline overviews here: https://theccp.net/council-elections-in-the-spotlight/