More than three quarters of councils believe that the use of social networks has improved their service delivery, while 54 per cent feel that social media has led to more satisfied customers, according to a new report conducted on behalf of accountancy firm BDO.
According to From Housing and Litter to Facebook and Twitter report, almost one third of adults now use the Internet to obtain information from public authorities, and almost one fifth of pensioners are now signed up to a social networking site.
Over one third of the authorities polled claimed social media had reduced call volumes, while a quarter believed that it had reduced unnecessary face-to-face contact. The report found that an authority that receives 50,000 face-to-face visits a month could save over £2 million by reducing these visits by half.
Almost three fifths of participants said that they had received no financial gain from embracing the social networks, while just over a third believed their organisation had benefitted financially.
According to the report, eight in every ten councils now have a presence on Facebook, while as many as 96 per cent are now on Twitter.
Almost all (97 per cent) of councils surveyed now use social media for external communications, while 53 per cent use it for community building and event information. Almost half of councils use social media for dealing with customer enquiries.
From Housing and Litter to Facebook and Twitter found that councils see potential for social media in service delivery, particularly for delivering environmental services (81 per cent).
Almost eight out of ten councils said that their comms team is responsible for social media, while three per cent said that their customer services department is.
Three quarters of local authorities said that their organisation has a social media policy for corporate use, while 47 per cent has one in place for personal use.
Six out of ten councils have a social media block on internal computers.
According to the report: ‘Social media offers the opportunity for more meaningful dialogue and engagement with citizens. It can offer a more open and transparent relationship to emerge between customers and councils and offers new ways of involving citizens in consultation processes.’
The report involved a survey of 67 local authorities.