As General Election 2010 looms, can civil servants cope with social media?

With the General Election looming and the ever-growing use of social media in campaigning, along with the growing recognition of its influence, questions are being asked about whether the average civil servant is equipped for the use of social media.

It has been suggested that some civil servants might feel that web communities are “too young” to operate in, but the benefits of using social media with young citizens is worth the initial risks of feeling uncomfortable using it. A report from futuregov.net, has been looking into this and the fact that British civil servants are being urged more and more to use online activities to get in touch.

The Director of Business Change at Birmingham City Council, Glyn Evans, feels that age may not be a significant factor in whether a civil servant gets social media. He stresses that it all depends on whether you are generally active in online activity and adds that the manner of civil servants is usually quite deliberative, whereas online communities demand more instantaneous responses.

It remains a fact though that social media will play more and more of a role in politics, with Gordon Brown talking of the growing use of digital technologies in a recent speech. As Evans says, with the General Election approaching the use of social media by civil servants is “likely to increase significantly” and he also acknowledged the “practical and sensible” recent guidelines for tweeting or Facebooking by civil servants.

What do you think about the growing use of social media in politics and how it might affect this coming General Election? Or maybe you’re a civil servant feeling pushed into using social media when you don’t feel comfortable with it? Why not let us know your thoughts?