How to Engage Citizens with Live and Recorded Video

Written by Rachael Walker

If a picture tells a thousand words, a video brings the story to life. Video has been proven to be one of the most effective ways to engage on social media. For local governments, that means that video is a powerful mechanism for sharing news, events, encouraging civic participation, building a brand, recruiting employees, and encouraging citizens to develop a sense of civic pride.

As a result of the number of social media users engaging with video, several popular video-focused social media platforms have emerged. Read on to learn what social video platforms are available to determine which is the best way to engage with your community.


According to Brandwatch, YouTube currently has over 1 billion users, making it the second largest search engine in the word behind Google, and the third most visited website of any kind behind only Google and Facebook. An astonishing 300 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute and more than 3.25 billion hours of video are watched on You Tube each month.

Facebook and Facebook Live

Facebook allows users to add recorded videos to posts. It’s estimated that video uploads have become so popular on the platform, that Facebook now sees 8 billion average daily video views from 500 million users. In addition to recorded video sharing, Facebook has evolved its platform to allow users to post and share live videos. This functionality has the capability to be particularly effective for local governments looking to connect with their citizens.

With Facebook’s live videos, page administrators can broadcast up to 60 minutes of live video which can be seen, and watched by their followers. Throughout the video, followers can “like” what they see, or replay with comments, which gives page administrators immediate and ongoing feedback while they broadcast.


Instagram’s 400 million users engage with this social platform to share photos, specifically from mobile device cameras. Most heavily utilized by younger demographics, Instagram offers local governments a platform to engage with young voters. Like the shift to video made by Facebook, Instagram is has evolved to meet users’ growing interests by allowing video footage to be posted to its user streams. When Instagram introduced videos on its platform, more than 5 million videos were shared in 24 hours.


Periscope is a social media platform solely dedicated to the broadcasting of live video. Adopted by 10 million users, Periscope is a live mobile video streaming service that is competing directly with Facebook Live. Periscope allows local governments to become their own on-the-go broadcasting stations by streaming live video and audio.

If you wondering which social platform would best allow you to engage with citizens when sharing live video, Facebook, or Periscope, know that where Facebook Live has an advantage over Periscope, is that it has 171 billion users. Periscope’s 10 million users are minute in comparison, which means that local governments looking to engage a wide demographic of social media users with live video may be better off utilizing Facebook.

More Than Just Social

Remember that videos aren’t just for social media. They are a great way to engage citizens who visit your civic website as well. With a flexible content management system (CMS), you can share video in a variety of places on your local government website before sharing to social media. Consider placing video on your homepage, in your community blog, and on key department pages. 

Tips for Engaging Citizens with Recorded and Live Video

If you’re ready to broadcast the best of your community with video, follow these best practices and sharing tips:

Tips for Recorded Video:

  • Record and share your own local news stories. Tell citizens about key events, projects, and administration achievements that will impact their community. Short, informational videos have been an effective tool for communities to generate awareness and share news about local community initiatives and administrative accomplishments.
  • Partner with businesses leaders in your community to share videos of local business success stories. Such opportunities help to formulate strong relationships between businesses and local government administrations.
  • Engage school districts in your community to share videos of local sporting events. Proud parents in particular are likely to share such videos to their own social media sites, helping reach a larger audience.
  • Share videos of community events (parades, fairs, concerts, sports, etc.). For those not able to attend in person, recorded videos allow them to still feel like they are a part of the community and its events.

Tips for Live Video:

  • Host a live Q&A with community leadership. Your audience can send you questions for review. Serve as the moderator and let your mayor, county executive, or other civic leader answer direct citizen inquiries.
  • Share town hall meetings and public forums. Increase your overall attendance at key community discussions by opening them up to digital attendees.
  • Live stream monumental community events. Ribbon cutting ceremonies, swearing-in ceremonies, building demolitions, and parades are all engaging events that citizens may not be able to attend in person.
  • Broadcast live footage of your department of public works repairing a road, installing new street signage, or repaving a sidewalk. Infrastructure is incredibly important to citizens, and seeing direct responses to their needs is sure to gain their attention and their appreciation.

After putting in time and effort to produce video segments, be sure to maximize their exposure. Any videos that you share on social media should also have a home on your local government website. The CivicEngage CivicMediaTM module allows you to easily incorporate recorded and live videos anywhere on your CivicEngage website—no advanced technical knowledge required.

Engage Citizens with Video on the Go with Civic Media