7 min read

How Local Governments Should Leverage Social Media in 2021

By GovPilot
 

Perhaps your local government’s social media pages haven’t had a post go live in years. Or, maybe local officials haven’t yet set up a Facebook or LikedIn page yet. Maybe you are looking to social media channels as a way to deepen citizen engagement in your community.

Whether you’re looking to get started for the first time with a social media strategy for local government, or your municipality or county is looking for ways to further improve social media use,  community engagement via social media platforms can be critical in public satisfaction, awareness, and safety.

Follow along to get a better understanding of why local governments need social media accounts, and how you can best use the top platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and NextDoor to reach your constituents. 

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Why Should Local Governments Be Active on Social Media?

With 7 in 10 American adults saying they actively use Facebook, chances are that the vast majority of the constituents within your community are active on social media. Inactive local governments are missing out on the most important and convenient way to directly correspond with community members. 

Social media can be used by local governments for things like recruiting government workers and volunteers, promoting events, and directly corresponding with citizens about important local issues. Elected officials can also take advantage of the communicative nature of the platform to build relationships with community members and increase the likelihood of re-election.

How Should Local Governments Be Using Social Media?

Local governments should have accounts on all of the major platforms, which include Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, NextDoor, LinkedIn, and even YouTube.

Here are some of the best ways that a local government should leverage social media:

Communicating With Constituents

By getting local community members to follow your municipal government on social media, you’re providing them with a resource to get valuable local information straight from a trusted source. 

Make regular posts to let community members know about important things, like emergency announcements, local news, work opportunities, and upcoming events. 

Community members will also be able to contact their local government directly via comments and direct messaging. This smooth communication will make residents feel like their voices heard, will provide your local government with data on what issues constituents want addressed, and increase community trust in local government

Recruiting Government Workers and Volunteers

With a hiring shortage for municipal governments across the country, recruitment has never been more difficult for local governments. Leveraging social media platforms to spread the word to the community will help with finding more potential candidates to get roles filled.

Similarly, sharing volunteering opportunities directly with your community can help with organizing programs like community emergency response teams and other meaningful civic engagement projects. 

For more advice on recruiting for your municipality, check out our Public Sector Recruiting: How to Hire Government Workers guide.  

Promoting Local Events

Whether your local government is hosting digital or face-to-face events, make sure that constituents are in the know. Promote notable events being put on by your local government, such as real estate auctions, vaccination clinics, township committee meetings, disaster preparedness training and fun neighborhood activities for families and children.

Building Relationships with Constituents (and Getting Re-Elected!)

For elected government officials, setting up your own social media profiles and being active online is a direct way to develop authentic relationships with constituents.

Your campaign can pay close attention to what constituents are saying, prioritize talking about things that matter to community members, and let constituents know that you’ve got their back. Posting and engaging on social media will be critical in standing out from the competition on the campaign trail. 

What Platforms Should Local Governments Be Active On? 

Ideally, government workers should receive social media training to be educated on how to best be active and engage on the top platforms.

Here are some best practices for using each of the major platforms:

How Local Governments Can Use Facebook

Facebook is considered the most popular social media platform among American adults. As a result, you should actively be posting meaningful content on there as regularly as possible.

Here are some best practices for leveraging Facebook as a local government:

  • Post photos and videos regularly: people are much more likely to engage with a post if there’s an eye-catching photo or video to go along with it. 

  • Respond to comments: Constituents will regularly be commenting on your posts. Whether that comment is positive or negative, responding directly will let people know that their government is paying attention and taking feedback seriously. 

  • Live stream events: going live on Facebook is an easy way for constituents to follow along with events they weren’t able to attend in-person. Have a government worker livestream events like town hall meetings directly to people that follow your page. 

  • Link off to important URLs: If you’re promoting something like an event or sharing a news story, provide value to community members by directly offering them a link with more details. Copy and pasting a URL into your post will embed it for people to access directly.

Need help setting up your profile local governments account. Learn more about creating a local government page on Facebook.

How Local Governments Can Use Twitter

Twitter can act as an incredible resource for your local government to convey critical information to community-members in real-time - whether it is about an upcoming community event like a parade, or more urgent like a flood warning

Here are some best practices for using Twitter as a municipality or county:

  • Use TweetDeck: TweetDeck is a platform created by Twitter for monitoring engagement on your content, tracking relevant topics and hashtags, and responding to messages and replies directly. Using this platform will save your government workers time and keep them up to date on important news and constituent communications.

  • Follow Community Members and Local News Outlets: Twitter is a great place to keep an eye out on what people and new sources are saying about your municipal government and workers. Be sure to keep an eye out on what's being said, and to retweet any meaningful information that your constituents should see. 

  • Have Some Fun: Twitter is one of those places on the Internet that brands and public institutions don't have to take themselves so seriously. The NJ State Government (@NJGOV) has hilariously embraced memes and humor in addition to serious content to make for a viral social-media account with close to 400,000 followers.

How Local Governments Can Use Instagram

Instagram is a Facebook-owned social media platform with millions of active American users as well. 

Here are some smart ways for local governments to use Instagram:

  • Use Facebook Business Suite: To save time, consider using the Facebook Business Suite when uploading new posts. That will allow your municipal workers to automatically upload new Facebook posts to Instagram as well (and automatically go live on Instagram when live-streaming on Facebook)

  • Use the Link in Your Bio: Instagram doesn’t allow you to include URL links in your posts, meaning you’ll have to select a link in your profile settings to display on your page. Consider getting a social media tool like Linkinbio to display multiple links from your profile.

  • Be Wise With Your Hashtag Selection: Consider using hashtags on your post to increase exposure with relevant audiences. Use hashtags for your town and state to make sure that its seen by as many people within your neighborhood as possible. (For example, GovPilot customer Trenton, New Jersey might consider using the following hashtags on it’s posts: #trenton #trentonnewjersey #trentonnj #newjersey #cityoftrenton #trentonmakes, #trentonmakestheworldtakes) 

Need help setting up your profile local governments account. Learn more about setting up an Instagram page.

How Local Governments Can Use LinkedIn

Local governments and government workers both have a lot to gain from setting up LinkedIn pages.

Here are some wise opportunities to use LinkedIn:

  • Government Workers Should Be Networking Regularly: LinkedIn is a great way to network with local business owners and community members. Regularly add people within your neighborhood as connections. 

  • Recruit Public Employees via LinkedIn: Recruiting has never been easier with the search functionalities available with LinkedIn Recruiter. Have human resource managers filter by geographic location and work experience to track down worthy candidates within your region. Effective public sector recruiting is critical as older workers retire and younger, digital native candidates are capable of operating government management software which can drastically increase local governments' efficiency and productivity.  

  • Share Interesting Local News Stories and Thoughtful Posts: People that spend time on LinkedIn are typically well-educated and enjoy learning. Share interesting local news stories on your profile to catch constituents’ attention. Municipal workers should also consider making posts from their personal profiles to showcase themselves as thought leaders in an effort to get re-elected and improve approval ratings. 

For more information on using LinkedIn, check out this LinkedIn for Government guide. 

How Local Governments Can Use NextDoor

While NextDoor is one of the newest social media platforms on the scene, it is arguably the most important at the local level. This platform is designed to connect people directly in their neighborhood to share local tips, spread local news, and establish relationships with neighbors with similar interests.

Your local government should use NextDoor in the following ways:

  • Keep an Eye on What People are Saying: NextDoor is a place where people can shed light on things happening in your community. Pay attention to common trends on what’s being discussed, and if one or multiple people are complaining about something within your government's jurisdiction, make note and try to alleviate the issue.

  • Share Work Opportunities and Events: NextDoor automatically shares content with others in your neighborhood, meaning that any post made by your municipal government will automatically be seen by constituents. This is one of the wisest places to share work and volunteer opportunities and important updates that constituents need to be aware of. 

  • Announce Events of Crime and Other Critical News: If a crime is committed like a robbery, ensure public safety by informing them quickly via NextDoor so that they know to lock their doors and be on the lookout for suspicious activity.

Local Governments Going Digital - In Conclusion

Don’t underestimate how beneficial making a digital transformation can be for your local government. Once you’re actively using social media for recruiting, promoting events, and communicating with your constituents, consider taking things a step further by switching to government management software to improve workflows across your entire organization.

To learn more about how cloud-based government software can benefit your local government, schedule a free consultation. 

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Local Government Social Media FAQs

How to Create a Local Government Social Media Profile?

Getting signed up for social media platforms is extremely straightforward. Check out these resources from the major platforms on how to get your pages set-up:

Why Should Local Government Officials Be On Social Media?

Elected officials like the mayor and local government employees should all consider using social media regularly. This is a great resource for promoting re-election campaigns, hearing what issues community-members are most concerned about, and spreading the word on events being hosted by politicians. 

Why Should Local Governments Be On Facebook?

From a sheer numbers perspective, it would be foolish to not be active on Facebook. 7 out of 10 American adults say that they're active on Facebook, meaning that the vast majority of constituents that are eligible to vote within your community are using Facebook on a regular basis. 

Interested in learning more about how to improve your local government? Read these additional resources:

Tags: Constituent Engagement, Government Efficiency, Constituent Experience, Blog, Civic Engagement