diamond geezer

 Tuesday, March 25, 2014

They've been clearing out the social media cupboards at City Hall and having a spring clean. A bundle of new accounts have been set up, and some existing accounts refreshed. Don't say you're not excited.

Updates from...TwitterFacebookInstagram
The Mayor of London@MayorofLondon  
The Deputy Mayor of London@DepMayorofLondon  
The London Assembly@LondonAssembly/LondonAssembly 
London Gov@LDN_gov/LDNgov@LDN_gov
The Mayor’s environment team@LDN_environment  
The Mayor’s business engagement team  @LDN_economy  
The Mayor’s volunteering team@TeamLDN/TeamLDN 
How London prepares for emergencies@LDN_prepared/LDN_prepared 

The three brand new accounts are the three in the middle of the list that start LDN. And it's that LDN prefix which has got the social media team excited. Previously the volunteering and emergencies teams had the very ordinary word "London" in their names, but now they have three much hipper letters, as part of a cross-organisation rebrand. The idea is that when you think City Hall you'll think LDN, or when you see LDN you'll think City Hall, one or the other. Unfortunately for City Hall the plain @LDN Twitter handle was taken several years ago by Everything London, a commercial service which specialises in dripfeeding promotional material inbetween rhetorical questions and pretty photos. As such it is of course ridiculously popular, with over a quarter of a million followers - numbers most official City Hall Twitter feeds can only dream of.

The London Resilience Partnership are charged with ensuring the capital's resilience in the face of catastrophe, and they've been explaining more about the @LDN_prepared rebrand on their site. Coherence is important, hence the symbolic coming together of GLA social media channels under the same brand umbrella. City Hall's Twitter feeds now all share a common visual identity, a fairly dull coloured square with Mayor of London at the centre. I'm unconvinced that replacing "London Prepared" with "Mayor of London Prepared" is a good move, or indeed especially accurate, but presumably the logo champions disagree. Rather cleverer is the fact that 'LDN' is three letters shorter than 'London', which leaves more space to tweet. Should the capital ever face disaster from flood, tempest or any other hazard in London's Risk Register, every single character counts.

One downside of the latest upgrade is that Twitter have stripped the London Prepared team of their official blue tick. Last week @LondonPrepared was a verified account, as befits potential mitigators of civic doom and disaster. This week they're merely @LDN_prepared, a bogstandard account with a couple of thousand followers, and hopefully they'll get their tick back soon. More intriguing is that London Prepared are planning to shut down their Facebook operation next month. Apparently that's because their Facebook page achieves far less engagement than Twitter, so it's deemed more efficient for the team to focus their efforts on tweets rather than Likes. If killer smog or an alien spaceship should descend upon the capital this summer, whatever you do don't head to Facebook for official advice - it won't be there.

Here's an unofficial league table of City Hall Twitter accounts by number of followers. You'll spot the newbies...
1) @MayorofLondon (882872 followers, 3566 tweets)
2) @LondonAssembly (7226 followers, 2563 tweets)
3) @TeamLDN (4056 followers, 6080 tweets)
4) @LDN_prepared (2266 followers, 2137 tweets)
5) @DepMayorLondon (500 followers, 63 tweets)
6) @LND_gov (337 followers, 6 tweets)
7) @LDN_environment (84 followers, 3 tweets)
8) @LDN_economy (38 followers, 5 tweets)
Unsurprisingly, Boris has by far the greatest following. As the face of City Hall obviously you'd follow him, although his is also the most partisan of the feeds. So be reassured that the GLA’s policy is that its social media channels are politically neutral, hence the other accounts should be purveyors of useful information and policy. It's hard as yet to judge the new @LDN_gov account based on four tweets and two retweets, none of them especially interesting. But as the mouthpiece of local government in a city of eight million people, it's got to be worth a punt, and a must-follow for anyone with an interest in local democracy.

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