Home > Uncategorized > UK Councils Social Media Reputation Index for December 2011

UK Councils Social Media Reputation Index for December 2011

This month:

  • The top 20 UK councils for new online buzz
  • Spotlights stories:
    • Stirling Council: #hurricanebawbag – would your council have had the balls to use this hashtag?
    • South Northamptonshire Council: Silverstone ‘masterplan’ granted planning permission
    • Horsham District Council: Safety warnings over fake vodka
    • Buzz and Media Mix – News v Blogs v Twitter etc

The Top 20

These are the councils that have seen the biggest increases in the volume of online buzz they are attracting. The biggest movers (subject to them attaining a minimum number of references during the month – Districts = 100 mentions, Counties and Unitaries = 300) for this month are:

top 20

top 20

Spotlight stories

Now let’s take a look at some of the stories behind the buzz…

Stirling Council: #hurricanebawbag – would your council have had the balls to use this hashtag?

For many, the 8th December was a proud day to be Scottish. Despite the brutal hurricane-force winds battering the country, many Scots had a smile on their face as Scotland found itself at the centre of a media storm over its affectionate naming of the storm as “hurricane bawbag”.

For those unfamiliar with colloquial Scots, the term bawbag means scrotum. The mischievous epithet sparked a trending topic on Twitter, with #hurricanebawbag quickly becoming one of the top trending hashtags worldwide. Just a couple of hours after the term was coined there was already Hurricane Bawbag merchandise on sale, and by 5pm, the hurricane had its own Twitter and Facebook pages.

bawbag facebook

bawbag facebook

The hurricane’s Facebook page has a huge number of ‘Likes’

The worldwide adoption of the term – which utterly outstripped the official but comparatively dull name Hurricane Friedhelm and the hashtag #scotstorm – led to a dilemma for local authorities and the more upright members of the media community. What should they call it?

Hurricane Bawbag was cheerily adopted by STV and the Daily Record, but the name did not appear on the BBC website, and the Herald and Scotsman ignored it.

At lunchtime, Stirling Council broke ranks and became the first (and only) council to use the term in the following tweet:

stirling bawbag tweet

stirling bawbag tweet

This sparked a retweeting frenzy (in itself, highly unusual for council communications) and a great deal of popular approval:

bawbag tweets

bawbag tweets

Just a few of the dozens of tweets applauding the council’s use of ‘bawbag’

Sadly, it wasn’t long before the council thought better of its rather risqué tweet, and it mysteriously disappeared from its twitter stream. We can only speculate as to the internal council dialogue that led to its removal (“You said what?!! Do you know what it means?!!), but it does raise an interesting question. Was the council right to use a highly popular (if somewhat improper) nickname, and thus broadcast important information to the widest possible audience? Or was it inappropriate? What do you think? What would you have done?

South Northamptonshire Council: Silverstone ‘masterplan’ granted planning permission

silverstone graph

silverstone graph

Graph showing South Northamptonshire Council social media mentions during December, spiking on 16th December following the announcement of the planning approval for the Silverstone site

The council seeing the biggest rise in social media buzz this month was South Northamptonshire, following the approval of the Silverstone ‘masterplan’ for extensive development around the circuit. Jointly approved by Aylesbury Vale District Council (#3 in the top 20), the development will provide a mix of uses including offices, distribution facilities, three hotels, new spectator facilities, a museum of motorsport and an educational campus with accommodation.

The majority of the social media interest came from the motorsport industry and associated blogs, with little activity seen on Twitter or Facebook. SNC themselves did not tweet about the news, despite issuing a press release the day after the plans were approved.

This highlights the need for councils to integrate social media with their traditional communications function. SNC’s own Economic Development Strategy identifies the Silverstone site as of “vital strategic importance”; at a time of gloomy economic forecasts, this is a major ‘good news’ story for the region and deserves to be shared.

Horsham District Council: Safety warnings over fake vodka

In the run up to 2011’s New Year’s celebrations, trading standards teams for a number of councils issued warnings about the risks of conterfeit vodka. The story was widley picked up by the National Press, and included Horsham District Council’s warning over finding fake vodka that was found to contain industrial solvent Propan-2-ol.

In actual fact, the warning from Horsham District Council was originally issued the previous month, in November, and was announced on the Council’s Facebook page:

vodka warning

vodka warning

The story was reposted on the ‘Horsham UK’ Facebook wall, a very popular community. It is worth having a look to see how powerful Facebook can be when used well.


Buzz and Media Mix

Next, this month’s total references to ‘Councils’ online is:

total buzz

total buzz

media mix

media mix


PublicServiceMonitor images and chart data may be used provided PublicServiceMonitor is credited accordingly.

For a more comprehensive service description please look at www.publicservicemonitor.com/about

Monthly Buzz Index methodology – Details can be found here

About PublicServiceMonitor – PublicServiceMonitor trawls the Internet 24 hours a day, seven days a week, searching through news, blogs, forums and social media sites. It reads through all of this information and summarises what’s being said about UK councils, and can even tell you whether the sentiment is positive or negative (similar to the election worm we have seen at #leadersdebate). The service was launched in December 2009 so is still quite early on, but by measuring a benchmark group of councils on a consistent basis we hope to be able to provide some national trend information relating to what people are saying about their councils – and how they choose to say it.

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