Social Media and Citizen Engagement

ARTICLE | Oct 31, 2012

Gone are the days when you could tally Facebook “likes” and Twitter “followers” as measures of social media success. Today, it’s not just about who you know, but what you are saying to them and whether or not they are sharing it with others.

In a recent web conference, ICMA explored social media engagement with three experts in the field: Juniper Korkie, ICMA’s director of digital strategies; Nannette Rodriguez, public information officer for Miami Beach, Florida; and Michelle Bono, assistant city manager for Tallahassee, Florida.

Korkie opened the presentation with a look at the state of social media marketing and explained the difference between “awareness” and “influence.” Awareness is measured in numbers of “likes” and “followers.” Website traffic flowing from social media is another way to measure awareness. Influence, however, is focused more on the relevancy of your content. It’s a way to judge if what you are posting in social media is actually meaningful to your audience. Influence can be measured in “re-tweets,” “mentions,” and how many times your content is shared.

According to Korkie, engagement is important because it allows you to listen, encourage feedback, increase transparency, and improve your image within your community. From a practical standpoint, Rodriguez and Bono offered creative examples of social media engagement that can be applied to communities of any size.

In Tallahassee, Bono has “social media leads” working in various departments. In addition to their normal duties, they are in charge of posting their department’s content on social media. She recommended using social media for media outreach, citing that a posting on Twitter is more likely to capture a reporter’s attention than an emailed press release. Bono also stressed the creative aspect of your content and shared new technology available for the iPad that allows you to easily create videos that can be fun, popular items to share in social media.  

In Miami Beach, Rodriguez is the only member of the organization posting to social media. She shared creative ideas that can be executed by a staff of one, and focused on practical tips, such as the optimal time to post on Facebook and how to use Twitter hashtags to increase exposure. Rodriguez discussed a successful food truck event and how her city used social media to attract traditional media coverage in print.

Learn more here about how to engage your citizens through social media.


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