With the launch of a Twitter account for the City Council, Madison residents have one more way to keep up with the city’s legislative body.
Legislative Services & Council Office Manager Lisa Veldran will run the account, @MadCityCouncil, with the goal of keeping people up-to-date on the work of the City Council. With the additional communication method, Veldran aims to keep followers updated on legislative items of interest, upcoming meetings and surveys that residents can take.
“Residents, and I think news media particularly, are interested in legislation and what the council is doing,” Veldran said. “It’s an opportunity to highlight the work of the Common Council members.”
Veldran will author the tweets and worked with the Common Council Executive Committee and the city’s Information Technology Department to craft a social media plan. This includes making sure the account is accessible to those who may be visually impaired.
The city is also launching a work group Aug. 12 that will review the council’s communication processes and tools, including social media.
The City Council account joins several other city-run Twitter accounts. including a profile for the mayor and a general city account. Separate handles exist for the clerk’s office, public libraries, fire and police departments, Metro Transit, Monona Terrace, Parks Division, the Madison Water Utility, planning department and winter information.
Madison’s 20 alders can currently communicate with constituents through a blog on the city’s website, but Veldran said that format is dated.
“People have to subscribe to get their updates or go looking for it,” Veldran said.
Council President Shiva Bidar said there is interest from alders in setting clear parameters on the use of social media as well as communicating broadly about the council’s work. Council members communicate to residents individual district issues, but it varies from alder to alder.“Right now, there’s really not a kind of standard practice of things that alders do,” Bidar said.
According to the city’s social media guide that was adopted in 2011, use of social media should communicate time sensitive information in a real time manner, marketing and promotional efforts designed to reach a demographic that favors social media and to solicit input on proposals or plans before the city.
“From my perspective, Twitter is a great tool to quickly get out information and keep people updated,” Veldran said.
Madison’s IT Department maintains city accounts and preserves information to comply with open records laws. Wisconsin defines record as any document, regardless of physical form, that "has been created or is being kept by" an agency.
Alders who maintain their own social accounts are responsible for retaining and maintaining that information because they are the owners of their own records, Veldran said.