Bristol mayor George Ferguson leads top 20 social media users in local government

Bristol’s elected mayor George Ferguson has topped a list of leaders in local government using social media.

A study by accountancy and business advisory firm BDO put former architect Ferguson, who has 35,000 Twitter followers, top of a list aimed at highlighting good practice among mayors, leaders and chief executives.

Birmingham’s chief executive Mark Rogers came second, with Joe Anderson, elected mayor of Liverpool City Council, in third place – he had the highest level of retweets at 8.57 per tweet.

The report said: “There were only two women in the top 10, and five in the top 20, potentially reflecting a wider lack of diversity in local government leadership.”

In addition: “No county council features in the top 20. This perhaps suggests that county councils are less likely to have a distinct ‘brand’ when compared to councils focused on more concentrated urban areas.”

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BDO also found that there was no Conservative Party representation among the politicians featured in the list.

Perhaps worryingly, although the top 20 performed well compared to their peers, there were low levels of engagement with newer social media platforms such as WhatsApp and Instagram.

“The lack of activity on alternative platforms suggests that there is a gap in the way leaders could innovatively deliver their message and are limiting their access to constituents,” the report said.

More than 74% of respondents to a poll carried out by BDO suggested that the approach taken by senior leadership towards social media had a significant impact upon how their organisation uses it.

BDO whittled down the its top 20 list from 800 chief executives, leaders and mayors by finding the 50 Twitter accounts with the most followers.

A score based on engagement across Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms led to the selection of the top 20.

The order within that list was agreed following a qualitative analysis of social media content using criteria including individuality, agenda setting, reputation management, reach, innovation, reception, engagement and successful blend of personal and professional.

The full top 20 council leaders using social media

George Ferguson, elected mayor, Bristol City Council
Mark Rogers, chief executive, Birmingham City Council
Joe Anderson, elected mayor, Liverpool City Council
Jim McMahon OBE, leader, Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council
Tudor Evans, leader, Plymouth City Council
Tony Lloyd, interim mayor, Greater Manchester Combined Authority
Julian Bell, council leader, London Borough of Ealing
Sarah Hayward, leader, London Borough of Camden
Tom Riordan, chief executive, Leeds City council
Jo Miller, chief executive, Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council
Sharon Taylor, leader, Stevenage Borough Council
Peter John, leader, London Borough of Southwark
Warren Morgan, leader, Brighton & Hove City Council
Donna Jones, leader, Portsmouth City Council
Nick Forbes, leader, Newcastle City Council
Richard Watts, leader, London Borough of Islington
Sir Richard Leese, leader, Manchester City Council
Ian Stewart, leader/elected mayor, Salford City Council
Dorothy Thornhill, leader /mayor, Watford Borough Council
Muhammed Butt, leader at London Borough of Brent

Colin Marrs

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