Should Municipalities use Social Media – Chapter 2

Chapter 2

Back in July of last year (Should Municipalities use Social Media) I wrote about how city government could use social media to communicate with their residents. Since then, my little experiment with the City of Tipp City has been going full steam. The City launched their facebook fan page back in October, 2009 and now have 614 fans. The City Manager, Jon Crusey is the primary editor of the fan page and uses the resource to communicate to residents about:

  1. Snow Emergencies – Often during the winter road closures, troublesome potholes and trash collection day changes necessitate urgent communications with residents.
  2. City Council Agenda – One of the murky areas for residents had been lack of knowledge of what is going on with City Council. Full agenda summaries are now available online from Facebook.
  3. Financial Transparency – The City uses the page to post winning bids for work being performed around town, street repairs, water towers, etc.
  4. Schedule of Events – The City can now announce events and uses the wall to post openings/closings

Social State of the City

If you visited the link, you noticed that the facebook fan page did not have direct fan comments to the wall enabled. This prohibits the fans of Tipp City from creating their own interesting, snide, or thoughtful commentary on the City’s wall. What impact does this have on their “social state?”

  • Fan counts stay artificially low. Residents with a “beef” with the City won’t become a fan, because they can’t create their own rant post
  • Rants that are shared within threads started by the City can be edited out, keeping the friendly state of affairs in-tact
  • Comments within the City threads are mostly favorable
  • Links are presented on the fan page that lead readers to the City’s website

I have consulted with several of my social media peers regarding Tipp City’s specific use and management of their facebook fan page and there seems to be agreement that their work is a good example of a municipality taking its first step into the social media vista. The worst scenario of course would have been an experience where the City received a barrage of comments, rants and questions that they were not staffed to handle. What has resulted has been a steady stream of mostly positive comments about the City making an effort to stay in touch with residents.

KUDOS go out to Jon Crusey, City Manager of Tipp City for his use of facebook to better communicate with residents. Hopefully other cities and townships in Ohio are able to learn from Tipp City’s example and use facebook to better deal with communication challenges that they may face.

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