5 Social media tips for city government

Congratulations! Your city has made the decision to engage in social media as another tool to connect with citizens. You set up your community on Facebook and Twitter, and now you’re wondering what you’ve gotten yourself into. I’ve learned a lot through the City of Reno’s adventure with social media, and I have some tips to save you a few months of figuring it out by yourself.

1. Extend your Facebook page

Why not integrate all your social media accounts together on Facebook? For instance, using a free application called Involver, you can create tabs to pull in your Twitter feed and your YouTube videos. The application makes it easy for fans to send a page invitation to their friends, and they don’t have to leave Facebook to watch your latest YouTube videos.

2. Automate with care

Be careful when your web folks tell you they can RSS feed your way to social media success. Citizens don’t have to try very hard to tell that a Facebook post starting with “Post ID 71654, City of …” wasn’t written specially for them. If you’re going to use RSS or a content replication application, make sure it translates well to all mediums. We learned the hard way on this one.

3. Use appropriate Twitter hashtags

I learned this lesson relatively recently. We have a city blog, called the Around the Arch Blog. I set it up to push posts directly to twitter and add the hashtag #aroundthearch at the end to aid people in finding our tweets. Sounds great, right? Wrong. I should have appended the tweets with #cityofreno and #reno, because those are the terms people are actually using. Even if we get aggregated with non-city posts, we still get our content in the middle of the conversation. Our newly redesigned blog will launch in a couple weeks with the new approach (and a greatly improved design).

4. Post your standards for comments

We did this on Facebook by posting it on the Info tab. There isn’t a spot for it, so we put it in the “Public Transit” field. Posting your standards doesn’t mean people will read them, but it still makes it public and helps keep you in check if you review and delete content according to your standards.

5. Don’t forget about LinkedIn

You may use LinkedIn for your own professional networking, but you can also use it to add your city profile. You can add your blog feed, your web address and optionally pay for a custom company profile for additional features like a careers module. Members on LinkedIn can now ‘follow’ companies, so they’ll see your updates in their Home feed.

These are just a few tips. Please comment with your own ideas for admins of government social media!
(Original post on www.kristyfifelski.com)

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Great tips.

I’d add another one:

-Promote your social media channels in your traditional channels. Make sure to post social media information and links in your emails, website, and print flyers. I love how TSA has stickers for their blog that are posted when you go through screening. Social media channels need promotion as well…

Kristy Dalton

Good point, Steve. I would love to hear any more ideas out there on creative ways to promote your social media channels.

Joe Flood


Respond to citizens via twitter. A couple of DC city agencies have twitter accounts and the really quickly respond when you DM or @ them – much to my pleasant surprise.

Bill Beamish

We are a small-remote-rural-island community of fewer than 1000 people. (cell phone service was initiated in 2009) However, last week we hosted a dialogue on “Building trust Through Public Engagement” and it was great to see so many involved residents. it was also interesting to learn that almost 1/3 of the participants wanted to be informed by posating on Facebook. We are adjursting our communication methods to include Facebook notifications for meetings, bylaws etc.