10 May Government and the Importance of Social Media
The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only object of good government. -Thomas Jefferson
Social media is undoubtedly one of the strongest ways to get your messages out. It’s an easier way to reach mass audiences who would not necessarily visit a government website. It isn’t just a way to push public service announcements, but a way that a government agency can really engage with its people. Government entities should make it a priority to use social media not only in separate sectors but an umbrella to encompass a variety of strategies.
Strategic Ideas for Social Media Uses:
- Building a 2 way Dialogue
- Engaging with your audience
- Receive feedback on different programs and services
- The ability to create local influence
- Curate your own news and what you feel your agencies updates are important
- Assist in physical event attendance
- Create additional communication channels during emergencies
- Promotes positive transparency
The many benefits
There are numerous benefits to governments running their own social media accounts.
For starters, government entities could effectively communicate announcements of Town Hall or Council meetings. For municipalities that offer live or archived video, citizens could be encouraged to go click links leading to the official website to view and partake in conversations involving matters of the community. Communities could also be made aware of special events or classes being offered by recreation officials. Links could be offered for registration to make it easier for people to sign up.
For emergencies or instances of severe weather that occur with little to no warning, social media can be a great way to communicate important information to affected areas in a short amount of time. Of course, it wouldn’t be the only source of information, but a vast majority of people are on social media. So, a lot of people could access information in a timely manner, especially if their accounts are set up to receive alerts.
For municipalities looking to fill work positions, social media could play a big part in spreading awareness to potential applicants. Announcements can be made accompanied by links to full job descriptions and instructions on how to apply. One or two posts to social media sites like Twitter or LinkedIn could increase engagement, get people to apply, and even gain followers.
Police Departments could engage with citizens by posting crime prevention tips or time-sensitive information like amber alerts on their social media accounts. Citizens could also help aid in investigations by sharing information they know about anything the police are inquiring about.
Cities can also use social media sites like Youtube to create their own news content. Six out of 10 people today prefer online outlets to live television and for local government, this means the number of people exposed to news content and advertisement on cable television is dropping. Online outlets prove to be another efficient way a city can connect with it’s people. They can leverage their social media to tell their own unique stories and have the potential to have a greater reach at a more affordable cost.
Social media is also a great way to not only reach citizens but travelers, too. If tourism is an important aspect of your community’s economy, sites like Pinterest can be an effective tool to reach travel lovers and connect them with the local government website for more information.
Social media can also be used as a means to figure out what’s on the mind of its constituents. Posing questions and building conversation in platforms that allow for comments help build communication as a two way street. They can voice their opinions on what needs to be fixed and what important information needs to be shared. People outside of the agency can be important contributors to their social media platforms.
But why should governments really run their own social media accounts?
News outlets primarily control most of the news that we hear on a daily basis. Sometimes it feels like more bad than good. But as technology advances, and more people venture online, spreading information is quicker and easier than ever. Both government and mass media have the responsibility to accurately report all matters, whether good or bad. They are not supposed to be biased or one-sided or represented by just one person speaking for all sectors.
Mass media outlets like news stations or radio programs do not need to be the ones controlling the narrative of society. This is why it is important for government entities to have their own separate accounts to report on other issues that aren’t sensationalized news stories.
Let’s be proactive with our influence and our credibility
Do you know the best strategy to resolve a PR nightmare? BEING PROACTIVE. Yes! Let us be proactive and engage with our audiences before someone else steps in and creates bad news (whether true or false). How are you building your credibility muscles?!
For Federal Agencies
With extensive pressure of where the budgets are being allocated, creating cost effective measures of communication and awareness helps mediate much of its citizen’s questions. For recruitment social media is a great tool in relating of who has come before them and what the agencies are currently working on.
For Local Governments
For every negative, there is a positive. And it seems these days that the bigger news outlets tend to focus more on the negative aspects of communities, doing more crime reporting, and focusing on what can be considered horror stories than anything else. But it’s not the only things that people want to hear about. Citizens want their towns to be represented in a way that they are aware their local municipality is working to make the community a better and safer place.
Governments can engage with social media users to provide them with access to information that’s beneficial to them and bettering the community. By creating and managing their own social media accounts, the opportunity is present to shine a more positive light other things going on within the city.
Connectivity enables transparency for better government, education, and health. – Bill Gates
Similar to a house you are building equity!
For every every fan and follower you are building your social media ecosystem that you essentially own (aside from the platforms themselves that also own rights).
Building your fan base is advertising that you can pay once and own the market to over and over again. For example if you were to pay for a print advert, the magazine or newspaper owns the audience. If you were to instead re-invest those funds into facebook advertising, those new followers are yours and you can eventually post something (unadvertised) that the same audience can view.
Fun Fact** the larger the audience you build, the more capable your content will become organically viral as you have an audience that has the ability to share more per capita.
Not convinced yet?
Shoot us an email and we will chat! Would love to hear your thoughts.