Posted by & filed under #Brum.

According to Paul Murphy from The Destroyers one of the reasons why we missed out on the European Capital Of Culture award was that when the judges visited the city no-one on the ground cared about either the award or the cultural ongoings.


The traditional perception with Birmingham is that we do plenty of creative and cultural things but we don’t like to shout about it. Cllr Martin Mullaney has pointed out several times during this City Of Culture bid that as a city we have very low levels of cultural engagement per head of population. I was determined in my role as Social Media Manager to increase engagement and prove that, given the right platform, we would shout about it.

My first day on the job involved working on the 24hour Blog run by Jon Bounds. We received a phenomenal amount of contribution to the Posterous site in a 24 hour period. Since then our engagement was spread across Facebook, Twitter and the main website.

When monitoring other shortlisted cities social media activities it was interesting to discover their bids were mainly limited to Facebook. We on the other hand had a much larger amount of Twitter followers. Today it passed the 1000 mark.

Only eight people were allowed to present the Birmingham’s case to the judging panel in Liverpool, we wanted to increase our presence. Birmingham had plans to take a Battle Bus which would stage cultural flashmobs around Liverpool on the day.

UK City Of Culture Bid

Public Relations Manager Geoff Coleman mentioned doing something similar to 24hour blog and I pitched the idea of using Cover It Live as a scrolling commentary which could be displayed ‘in the room’. It was important to gather all the different threads across multiple platforms. I also thought it was an ideal opportunity to make a virtual event out of our final submission. I passionately stated at the time,

“Can I just say that Birmingham’s strength as a digital city is one of our greatest assets and it would be doing ourselves a great disservice not to do something really innovative.”

I’m pleased to say that it was a success, there were around 900 messages of support over the period, and the Council Site where Cover It Live was embedded reported a spike of over 1000 unique users.

@Katchoo has blogged about what it was like to be involved in the event. A point well made was that it wasn’t just the usual people mentioning the same things. The real success of the event came from the variety of comments, the amount of people involved and the many cultural things Birmingham offers. We’re a culturally rich city that deserves recognition. And for once we really shouted about it.

  • We done Dan, it worked very well from this end (only the lovely Lauren LaverneTM et al know how it looked in the bid room).

    I’ll admit to being a little worried when I first heard the idea, both at how momentum would be sustained over such a long period of time at at the potential for the contributions on the hashtag to get sarcastic or anti council (anything Council related is a very political issue with strong feelings abounding) — but it was handled very well and did provide a good show of support.

    I’d sort of say it did contain (but wasn’t limited to) the ‘same old faces mentioning the same old things’, but it’s not losing the old that’s the aim but getting new people engaged — and this did that.

    You’re done imho a very good job managing the social web presence — top stuff, let’s hope it leads to a Brum victory.

  • dandavies23

    Thanks Jon!

    I was worried about the early start too but it was carried off on sheer momentum.

    Cover It Live meant that we could control comments in the room itself. But honestly, I maybe left out one or two.

    It was heartfelt and genuine.