On social media, people can engage directly with politicians, municipal officials, and even government agencies.
We all know how important it is for governments not only to adapt to a rapidly changing world but also how to take advantage of these new forms of communication.
In this post, we break down some of the benefits of using social media in local government. These benefits range from building more awareness in the community to developing efficient crisis communication in local government.
The spread of COVID-19 is unprecedented in almost every aspect for local government, including communications. Local officials are being asked to provide regular updates in rather uncertain times to an anxious public.
One of the pressing questions for local officials is “How can you be sure you’re using social media effectively?”
With so many in the community on edge and glued to their telephones or computers, the wrong message could exacerbate things. The public looks to local government not just for direction, but also to set the tone in how to get by. It is particularly important for the local officials to get the message out in a calm and professional manner. This means no overuse of exclamation points or tweets in all-caps.
Many local governments have begun to develop programs to communicate information to their communities. Less well developed are programs to solicit feed-back from citizens and businesses.
When local officials keep their public engaged, they work on keeping them informed about policy and issues of most interest to them.
A focus on engagement helps in two ways:
- Building trust. Social media gives local officials an opportunity to be more transparent. The hope is always that opening up local government and making it more transparent helps build trust.
- Personalizing local government. Too often people forget that there are actual people behind agencies and local government offices. Social media gives local government leaders an opportunity to show audiences that they too are part of the community.
Build public trust
According to a survey conducted in the US by Open the Government, more than half of voters would like to see more authenticity and transparency in their government.
Why not? Like a business the ability for local officials to stay authentic and honest with their communities is critical for developing good and enduring relationship with them. Social media offers a means to remain transparent and clear with constituents.
Outreach programs to the community about security issues about why they are important to everyone are important for building up this trust.
Accurate information – Set the record straight
The combination of a crisis and social media is a great breeding ground for misinformation and disinformation. It is important to use social media tools to listen to exchanges in the community and to identify inaccuracies and respond accordingly. Certainly, ones does not need to address everything. Local officials that see many people falling for or disseminating falsehoods should use their platforms to set the record straight.
Social media is a great way to test your message with the community.
Using social media is good tool because it’s:
- Low impact
- A great way to get instant feedback
- Not only can one do test messaging, but one can also leverage social media to craft focused messages as well.
- With practice officials can see what’s trending with their audience and what captivates them. They can then use this information to connect directly with them.
Traditional public outreach by any account is expensive.
Social media used well can dramatically cut those costs.
Instead of spending on advertising, government entities can now leverage more cost-efficient social platforms to raise awareness about issues like Cybersecurity that the public needs to know about. In the end, these are platforms their communities are already using.