May 08 2015

State and Local Governments Must Plan for Success with Social Media

At a gathering for government social media, leaders shared their experiences and best practices.

Although many governments once thought of social media as a curious side project, the reality is that it’s fast become an essential part of any state or local government’s communications strategy.

Recently, leaders in state and local government assembled in Reno, Nev., to trade notes on managing social media and engaging with citizens digitally, reports Government Technology.

Philadelphia Chief Customer Service Officer Rosetta Carrington Lue advised other cities on how they could start and run a lean and mean social media machine. The city’s social media presence— which includes more than 76,000 Twitter followers and 17,000 Facebook fans — was created and defined by the Mayor's Office of Communications, which is led by Desiree Peterkin Bell, director of communications and strategy . She oversees a team of 20 people who run and manage the accounts.

Lue emphasized that it was important to think strategically and long term about social media and to put processes in place to ensure its success — which probably means that running your government’s social media presence isn’t a job for an intern. Here’s more from the Government Technology story:

“You can’t expect one big push and then to just go stealth,” she said, advising that officials take first steps by creating a profile of the type of person equipped to handle an organization's social media presence. In Philly, these characteristics included a fidelity to good grammar, a curiosity in government issues, and an understanding of the city’s culture.

Next, she said if a city has a press or public affairs office to draft a set of short social media guidelines to guide posting processes — in Philly this is about three to four pages of general rules of thumb. And finally, hold weekly planning sessions where three to six original posts per day are pre-scheduled and logged within a content calendar to highlight the city's different programs and initiatives.

It should be noted that Philadelphia in general appears to be emerging as a center of social media excellence at the state and local levels. The City of Brotherly Love was also the first city government to make use of Meerkat when the city decided to livestream the mayor’s press conference in April.