The Use of Social Media in Local Government is Ever-Evolving
Updated: Oct 15, 2019
Social media has emerged as one of the most effective platforms for reaching constituents in meaningful and engaging ways because it keeps them directly informed about the news and events in their communities. When public entities first began to leverage social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, they gained an additional communication channel to share announcements with residents, such as public health advisories or event cancellations. Today, the expectations of a community shapes the role that social media plays in its local government. Today, citizens expect social media accounts to be less formal and bi-directional tools that they can use to contact their local government with questions and inquiries, provide feedback, and take part in critical and formative dialogue. This expectation is motivating many communities to use social media in more innovative and engaging ways. Our team at Capital Strategic Solutions is comprised of social media experts who offer actionable services and practices that help improve the implementation of social media for your organization.
We believe that social media is an excellent tool for outreach, however, there are challenges that come with creating effective and inclusive content. Government entities are required by Section 508 laws and policies to comply to a higher standard of online accessibility for individuals with impairments than their counterparts in the private sector. This ensures that content is inclusive enough to meet the needs of the diverse general public. Although more and more organizations are using social media to conduct outreach, recruit job candidates and encourage workplace productivity, not all social media content is always accessible to people with certain impairments, which in-turn limits the reach and effectiveness of these platforms. With 20 percent of the population estimated to have a disability, government agencies have an obligation to be certain that their messages, services and products are created to be as inclusive as possible.
Social Media Management is No Longer the Responsibility of a Single Person or Department
There was a time when the use of social media by local governments was the responsibility of a single public information officer who would simply update a single community Facebook page. Presently, many municipalities are diversifying their social strategies and using various platforms at the department-level to foster unique aspects for citizen engagement strategies.
In response to the evolving, more informal and more casual tone of social media that big brands and public entities are adopting, local governments are learning to share messages that are about more than just their community. Creative agencies and municipalities share content like holiday greetings, congratulatory messages to schools and local citizens, and wider variety of messaging that is far beyond agendas and local event updates. For example, some communities may use Twitter to remind citizens to set their clocks ahead for daylight standard time.
Social Media can also be a Vital Component of Public Safety Communications Strategies
If a disaster impacts your community, you won’t have the time to wait until the evening news to share updates with the entirety of your constituents. Whether your town or city is faced with a natural disaster or any other form of emergency, community members need access to news and information that is pertinent to the situation. When integrated as part of a mass notification system, social media administrators can update their accounts from any desktop computer or mobile device, reaching community members with vital instructions no matter where they are when disaster strikes. Social media also acts as a critical communication channel when local governments need to inform citizens about road hazards or minor inconveniences as well.
At Capital Strategic Solutions, we have over a decade of experience built around the implementation of social media in official government and impact mitigation communications strategies. If you are interested in learning more about what we do, please contact email@example.com or call 508-690-0046.