Social Media for the Voluntary & Public Sectors @ No1 Leeds

Many thanks to VCS Learning for putting on the social media event at i2 offices on Whitehall Road   I was there representing Oblong Leeds


Tom Riordan CEO Leeds City Council spoke about his use of Twitter to help people understand the work of the council and to help change perceptions. He explained that some people had an impression of the council as being inaccessible – Twitter is a way for him to open up the council.



Twitter also makes him accessible as a CEO, and said that he always responds to Twitter messages. He was aware that some users engage in negative snipes but said he always responds politely.

I was encouraged that Tom Riordan sees Twitter as an interactive tool rather than simply a means of broadcasting. He was quite clear to say that he uses Twitter to get a feel for prevailing opinions and get feedback. A listening CEO of a council. And because Twitter is so instant he can be ahead of the game, “even beats the 24 hour news channels”

Some benefits include seeing his organisation from a range of perspectives, extending his own networks and linking with other people and organisations which can inform his decision making.

Twitter is also very good at alerting council staff to important news and in some ways fulfils the function of a newsletter.

He said that council leader Keith Wakefield was a new convert to twitter and that it is the former Twitter cynics that might make the best tweeters.

The verdict on Facebook was less favourable which he reserves for personal interactions and doesn’t talk about business. Facebook he said can be problematic – all too easy to say something embarrassing. Linked in he uses to gather people into his network and sometimes to engage interesting groups – but not to do much posting.


Alex Swallow founder of Young Charity Trustees spoke next. He went through some solid and sensible uses of social media.

But the thing that struck me was that without social media his organisation probably would not have existed. Young Charity Trustees can exist without and office, without being registered as an organisation, have no paid staff, no printed materials and no costs.

So, social media is an important brand building and PR tool. You can create and organisation’s identity and presence in the wider world. You can give the public insights into your organisation, making the walls invisible. You can change perceptions You can listen to your customers and stakeholders and form new partnerships. You can manage your own press coverage and tell the world what you had for tea.

Published by Mark

Mark Waddington is a former BBC broadcaster and producer. He now works for the Diocese of Leeds as Urban Mission Officer. If you would like to get in touch email