The microblogging site Twitter is becoming a popular communications medium. In this 40-minute podcast, Oakville Mayor Rob Burton talks about how and why he uses Twitter and other social media tools. Perhaps his experience with Twitter and Facebook will help him to meet his goal of being the most accessible and engaging mayor in the history of Oakville.
Read the Newbie’s Guide to Twitter to learn more.
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Here are the show notes:
[00:01] Intro and welcome; definition of Twitter
01:38 A little about Rob Burton.
02:15 Rob defines Oakville as a city that calls itself a town and acts like a village; population of 175, 000 makes it the second largest town in Canada. 04:30 Rob talks about his own use of Twitter and what it means to him as a leader; found it confusing at first; watched a few people including Mayor of Minneapolis R.T. Rybak and Donna Papacosta.
06:22 Rob had dinner with Toronto Mayor David Miller last year; discussed Twitter and suggested mayors should be in tune with it. Miller jumped in right away.
[07:32] Rob likes to retweet (RT) and pass along interesting information.
[09:10] Rob tweets about local activities and events, with photos; easy to send pictures via Blackberry; adds an extra dimension; experimenting with video.
[11:19] Twitter is a very plastic tool; Oakville real estate agents are using it like crazy.
[13:20] What’s the value for the citizens of Oakville? No single communications medium can ever each everyone. There’s a bit of a media vacuum in Oakville, and we’re the suburb of a very large metropolitan area. Twitter is one more presence point in the communications mix.
[15:29] Rob’s goal is to get the message out about what the town is to as many people as possible and to hear from as many people as possible as to what they want the town to do.
[16:04] Rob’s bold goal: At the end of his time in office, to be remembered as the most accessible and engaging mayor in the history of Oakville.
[16:22] As mayor, you have to listen and hunt for ideas.
[17:45] Rob wants to make big changes to the Town of Oakville Web site to increase accessibility to him and the other members of Town Council.
[18:02] People will start to expect a high level of accessibility to government leaders.
[18:40] Rob works hard at being approachable.
[18:48] Oakville is full of people who aim high in life and achieve goals. Sometimes being Mayor of Oakville is like being the concierge in a very high-end private hotel. The patrons are not shy about asking for what they want.
20:20 Rob uses Facebook mostly to communicate with family and friends. Moves at a slower pace than Twitter. Example of Mattamy Homes on Twitter; conflict draws followers.
[22:43] Rob can automatically update his Facebook status from Twitter.
[23:30] Facebook is the people that you used to know; Twitter is the people that you want to get to know. Twitter can be compared to a cocktail party.
[24:00] What would Rob say to someone in government who is not convinced of the value of Twitter? He says the time investment is negligible. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
[25:00] Mayor Rybak is now in election mode; he is using Twitter tweets to point people to content on his Web site.
[27:00] Email is less formal than a postal letter; a tweet is even less so. And shorter. Twitter lends itself to casual commentary.
[29:20] Rob’s most valuable piece of advice: The 140-character limit on Twitter is approximately 25 words. You’re learning to speak in sound bites! A great skill for someone in government.
[30:00] Rob and Donna first discussed this podcast interview at the Oakville Midnight Madness festival, then arranged the whole thing on Twitter very simply and quickly.
[31:20] Twitter is becoming a very valuable tool. Rob is trying to find other places to embed it. Online visitors like content that is updated frequently.
[34:50] Funny story about how one mayor uses her blog to get the attention of local media.
[36:00] Town of Oakville site will eventually incorporate social media and more interactivity.
[38:30] Town Council has four-year strategic work plan; core value is devotion to continuous improvement. Rob likes to hear about opportunities for improvement.
[39:30] Thanks to Rob; he says he is feeling good about Twitter and it has a huge potential.
[40:00] Where to send comments: email to Donna AT Trafcom DOT com.
Theme music is “Beneath Your Surface” by the Elisabeth Lohninger Quartet from the Podsafe Music Network.