7 Ways to Use Social Media with Your Municipal Website in 2017

Written by Rachael Walker

Social media has emerged as an effective platform for reaching citizens in meaningful, and engaging ways, keeping them informed about news and events in their communities. Whether you’re just starting to integrate social media into your communications strategy, or are looking for ways to leverage the latest tools and social channels, our list below is sure to inspire creativity and offer actionable advice.

Read our top seven examples of ways local governments like yours are utilizing social media to engage and inform citizens.

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1. Live Video of Community Events

Local governments can leverage the impact of video on social media by sharing videos of community events on Facebook, Instagram, and Periscope. Share videos of holiday parades, the development of new buildings, political interviews, or film your own news-style features to educate citizens about issues impacting your community. For example, the City of Anaheim, California shares videos of recent community news on its Facebook page, such as ribbon cuttings.

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2. Weather Alerts.

The average citizen spends nearly two hours on social media every day, making it an effective way to communicate time-sensitive news—like potentially disruptive weather alerts. The Town of Banff in Canada, for example, uses its Twitter account to share local news, including weather alerts. Banff adds popular local hashtags and links to additional content available on its website to maximize the reach of its messages. In the example depicted below, during the first major snow storm of the season, the administrators in Banff included a link to their local government website’s available traffic cameras to prepare citizens for dangerous road conditions.7_Ways_Local_Government_Can_Use_Social_Media_in_2017_Banff_fw.png

3. To Create News Content

YouTube has become such a well-adapted video sharing service that it is starting to steal market share from cable television. Six out of 10 people today prefer online video platforms to live TV. For local government, this means that the number of citizens exposed to news content and advertising on cable television is dropping. It also means local governments have a unique opportunity to leverage social media to tell their own stories and create their own video news content. For example, The City of Beaverton, Oregon has created a successful YouTube channel that it uses to share videos of town hall meetings, self-produced news stories, and other public service announcements.

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4. To Promote Tourism

Social media is an impactful and effective way of reaching not just citizens, but travelers. If tourism is an important aspect of your community’s economy, Pinterest can be an effective way to capture the attention of travel lovers and connect them to your local government website for more information. For example, the tourism department at Grants, Pass, Oregon uses Pinterest to engage travelers and capture their attention while encouraging visits. The “Travel Grants Pass” Pinterest page includes 12 boards that focus on such niche, but locally inspired imagery as “Beautiful Views in Grants Pass,” “Things to Do in Grants Pass,” “Attractions Near Grants Pass,” and “Eating in Grants Pass.” Its popular “Shopping in Grants Pass” Pinterest Page allows for the sharing of products and images sold by local retailers.

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5. To Invite Citizens to Take Part in Community Dialogue

When implemented as part of a strategic communication plan, social media can be an effective way to promote attendance at community events. For example, the City of Alcoa, Tennessee uses Facebook events to invite citizens to attend community meetings. When citizens interact with such posts, an update appears on their timeline, helping to further spread the message to even more interested citizens.

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6. Technology Training

Video is an effective training tool, and social media makes the mass distribution and accessibility of such video training tools easy. The community of Amherst, Massachusetts posted a series of training videos to YouTube in which they walk citizens through the use of their municipal website online community map interface. The series, called “Map Minute with Mike,” has been viewed hundreds of times by interested citizens.

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7. To Promote Parks and Rec Registrations

Social media is a great way to reach busy moms and dads. American Fork City, UT uses Instagram to encourage citizens to sign up for their fall youth soccer league. Using engaging photos and a direct link to their activity registration page, they have made registrations quick and easy for busy parents.

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If you're ready to start leveraging social media to help you connect to, and engage with, your citizens, click here to download our eBook, "A PIO's Ultimate Guide to Social Media." Our comprehensive eBook outlines the latest social media trends, explains how each platform can benefit local government, and offers tips to help you get started.

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