The world has undergone a digital explosion over the past few years and social media sits at the heart of the rapid changes that have taken place.

These aren’t just changes that are affecting the hyper-connected urban cities such as Birmingham, Coventry and the Black Country but they’re affecting the smaller towns and rippling down the rural lanes of Herefordshire, Staffordshire and Shropshire.

Social media is now the established default for breaking news and where crises now play out in real time.

We’re fortunate enough to find in 2013 the West Midlands leading the way in the UK and being genuine pace setters in the field.

A natural channel shift is taking place amongst key demographic groups – they are choosing to connect with organisations via social media. It’s up to these organisations to be effective in these platforms in order to respond.  Social media generally requires a quicker response to other more traditional platforms so its growth is changing the way businesses need to operate.

Organisations are being judged upon their responses to customers on social media.

There are more than 100 hyperlocal sites which write news for a small geographical area. There are 690,000 people with a Facebook account within 10 miles of Birmingham Council House.

But, there are some buts…

There are barriers to get over as well as issues around trust and training and uncertainty about how to measure effectiveness. Through case studies and targeted advice this document will help the seasoned professional and the uncertain senior officer.

Social media is not a silver bullet for all communications needs. It is not a magic wand. But it is a big, and increasingly growing, part of communications solution.

There is still an age divide in the UK when it comes to digital.

The advances in digital and social media have made communications easier but more complex all at the same time. One size fits all communications approaches won’t work.

And so it’s vital to understand your own digital and media landscape and multi-channel approaches are key to your organisations communications effectiveness. There are challenges ahead as budgets get squeezed. Trust is an issue. So is training.

Contained in this document are some case studies from the towns, cities, villages and – quite literally – farms across the West Midlands.


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