Bristol City Council (BCC) have today announced that Bristol is to be the first ‘Twitter City’ in the UK.
A council spokesperson announced the move yesterday, in connection with an investment of £7M into the provision of Twitter accounts and training for all of the city’s residents. The investment is part funded by central government, but the majority is expected to come from council funds.
The announcement has caused surprise as BCC is currently evaluating cutbacks in services in line with government requirements, but BCC IT experts believe that use of the social media network will save the council millions in future administration costs.
Josephine Kerr, spokesperson for BCC said, “As we are always looking at ways to reduce council spending on unnecessary areas, Twitter offers a very special opportunity for us. We will be moving all communications with residents to Twitter based communication within the next three years, and expect to save over £1.5M in postal and administration costs within the first two years alone.
She continued, “Rather than send out letters regarding civic issues, initially we will send public messages to all our followers, using the hash tag #counciltwit. Eventually we hope to move all council communications over to this service. As everyone is using Twitter now it represents the chance for Bristol to lead the way in both innovation and community.”
When asked how the council would communicate sensitive items such as benefit or council tax information, Ms Kerr replied “They will be sent by direct message, or DM.”
Forms are being sent out today (01 April) to the city’s 433,000 residents asking them to suggest a Twitter account name. Choosing an account name is compulsory, and if BCC do not receive a suggestion from a named resident within 28 days an account name will be automatically assigned.
As all residents of the city are now automatically followers of the city, the BCC twitter account is also believed to have set the world record for Twitter follower growth, being even faster than celebrity Charlie Sheen, who gained 1M followers in two days. Ms Kerr said, ‘Bristol City Council has effectively gained 433,000 followers in just one second. It is an achievement that the whole of Bristol can share in and be proud of.’
Yes, this was an April Fool! See you all next year!
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