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Swiss PRO
  • Government of the Republic of Serbia
  • The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC)
  • Standing Conference of Towns and Municipalities (SCTM)

News / Actualities

Use of Social Media for Enhancing Public Participation in the Work of Local Self-Governments

  • Belgrade, 28 January 2022

The Swiss PRO Programme, with the support of the Government of Switzerland, organised a training on the use of social networks for greater participation of citizens in the work of local self-governments. After the training held on 27-28 January in Belgrade, mentoring support will be provided to persons in charge of managing official social networks accounts and pages of local self-governments.

During the two-day training event, examples of good practice in content creation were presented which, in addition to useful information, also included a call for action, while practical exercises encompassed introduction to available tools that can be used to further improve the interactivity of communication with citizens who are active on the social media.

Nataša Stevanović from the City of Kragujevac has pointed out that this was the first training on the topic of the social media that she has had the opportunity to attend during her 15 years of working in the communications department.

"Training for the social media is something that all of us in local self-governments need, because it is currently the best channel of communication with citizens. We all have social media accounts, but it seems to me that the awareness of local self-government employees is not sufficiently developed when it comes to the importance of social media channels. Particularly because the communication on the social media is interactive, we can hear about the wishes and needs of the citizens and based on that we can conclude which steps we need to take", points Stevanović out.

Saša Kokalj from the Municipality of Ćuprija also believes that training on the topic of the social media is very important because this communication channel is taking primacy over the traditional media.

"The content presented to us at the workshop was interesting - for the most part we face the same problems, and it is interesting that citizens react the same manner. Greater participation of citizens is necessary, and I hope that we will manage to achieve that by applying the knowledge gained in this training. There is a lot of room for citizens to step up their participation, and that is a problem in all municipalities", thinks Kokalj.

Besides presentations on the importance of using tools for measuring and analysing the visibility of digital channels and the importance of digital marketing, the exchange of experience regarding different types and forms of content shared by local self-governments on the social media and open discussions about the challenges of two-way communication with citizens, part of the training was devoted to the crafting of specific posts related to the promotion of eServices provided by local self-governments, which are available on the official eGovernment portal.

"We got more than we expected - the training has equipped us with practical knowledge that I can immediately apply in my work. The municipality is primarily a service for citizens, all activities are focused on the needs of citizens and on solving their problems, but it happens that citizens do not exercise their rights due to the low level of information among them. That is why social media channels are very important to us because they are the fastest and easiest way in which the information we would like to put out can reach a larger number of citizens to whom the services we provide, or the decisions we make, are related", says Danijela Jelićanin from Vrnjačka Banja Municipality.

The training was attended by representatives of Ćuprija, Kragujevac, Mali Zvornik, Novi Pazar, Vlasotince and Vrnjačka Banja. Activities for the next three months were agreed upon with the participants and in this period, they will get mentoring support for the practical application of the knowledge acquired, and additional opportunities for training and work on improving the quality of the public’s participation in the activities of local self-governments through the use of the social media.

The training was organized within the Programme “Enhancing Good Governance and Social Inclusion for Municipal Development – Swiss PRO", supported by the Government of Switzerland in cooperation with the Government of Serbia, and implemented by the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) in partnership with the Standing Conference of Towns and Municipalities (SCTM).