3 Ideas to Help Turn Your ‘Local Government’ into ‘Social Government’

by politicalthing

One of my favorite television characters of all time is Ron Swanson from NBC’s Parks & Rec. A lot of people love Ron Swanson and for different reasons.

To most Ron Swanson is loved for being a ‘man’s man’ – he’s an expert whittler, a steak enthusiast, the creator of the Ron Swanson Pyramid of Greatness.

For those of us who have worked in public service Ron Swanson has been our boss, or at the very least a reasonable likeness. Ron Swanson is a middle-aged, middle manager in the local government of Pawnee, Indiana – he is averse to rocking the boat, doing any work, and has a general distaste for the public and local government.

Ron Swanson would not approve of the ideas in this blog. You should read it anyway!

A Participatory Medium for Participatory Government

Social media is a participatory medium. People tend to share what’s happening to them in real time; things that made them laugh, or maybe something that upset them.  People discuss everything on social media including their local government, and they expect that they will be heard.

How are local governments supposed to do that? Here are some foundational pieces you can start with.

Social Media Monitoring

People are talking about your local government and its services but how do you find these conversations? The first thing you need to do is select a ‘social media monitoring’ platform that will search the social web for targeted keywords. This will make sense of the chaos as the platform will only return conversations on social media that match your desired search criteria.

Whether you’re looking for citizen feedback on a proposed ordinance or you’re looking for citizens talking about municipal services, a social media monitoring platform will make that task more efficient and manageable.

Community Management

Someone will need to be responsible for monitoring social media, and depending on the size of your city you may want a team of people watching for these conversations. This group of people is often referred to in the social media industry as a “community team.”

Their function is to be the human(s) behind the brand. They seek to provide customer service, answer questions, and sometimes act as a gateway for information that needs to be answered by someone else in the organization.

A ‘community team’ makes your social media strategy flexibility to be both proactive and responsive!

Share, Share, Share

Governments produce a lot of reports on local issues. They are typically available for free in print format or online, but not always easy to obtain or find. Chances are your government department has boxes of reports in storage. If you ran a report on how often your reports are accessed online would you see that few people click on those reports?

Share them on social! Use platforms like Twitter, Facebook, or Google+ to share links to your reports and increase visibility. It’s much easier for someone to follow your department and click on a link than it is to go hunting on your website, or make time to go down to City Hall.

Turning ‘Local Government’ into ‘Social Government’

Jumping into social is a big deal. It requires a lot of forethought and a strategy to implement. The result may well lead to increased citizen engagement, so give it go!
This blog was originally authored by me and published here.