A soft Twitter launch for the County…

… and waiting for the other shoe to drop! Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t do this by myself. We have a Web 2.0 working group comprised of representatives from the Library, Parks & Rec, Economic Development, Public Information, the IT Director, and the County’s CIO. We’re wrangling on how to best use these information products to promote our services the County citizens and beyond.

Last week we presented several Web 2.0 ideas to our Assistant County Administrator. Since we’re still in the testing phase of several Web 2.0 products, and have not had the chance to formally inform our Board about the ramifications of collaborative web tools, we agreed with the our Assistant Administrator to start slowly with free and easy technologies where we could limit the conversation to a one way or one-to-one conversations (like the Meebo chat widget).

After some additional discussion and confirmation, we launched www.twitter.com/roanokecounty . In less than a week after a “soft launch”, we have 24 followers, many are staff and a few other locals clued in to what we are trying.

In November, we will present Web 2.0 concepts to our Board of Supervisors at a work session. If it goes well, we’ll follow through on a few other ideas the group has brewing.

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Pam Broviak

I hope you don’t mind if I follow your Twitter feed. I started one too for a project we are working on in our city to help inform residents affected by the job (http://www.twitter.com/golfview2008). So I am very interested to see how other government agencies are using it. I think it is a great idea to have one for your county. It works as a mini news feed and is so easy to do!


I keep hearing about Twitter and I see more and more people hopping on. Reading your post was the final push to get me onto Twitter.

What do you like about it?

Gray Craig

The thing I like best about Twitter is that it’s immediate and it’s brief. Perfect for the quick “come see this thing in our community,” “attend this program,” “avoid this road” -type of messages. As a student of journalism, it’s important to be brief and Twitter makes you write efficiently.
Also, I think as a local government, we have an obligation to “be” where our constituents are. And that place is increasingly out in the world with a cell phone, not tied to a desktop computer. US cell phone services are limited compared to Japanese, Korean and European markets where cell phones have become a combination of PDA and digital, wireless wallets. If our local government can show how our citizens will adopt even simple SMS services now, it helps us build a case for more mobile-based services in future projects.

Emma Dozier

The great thing about Twitter and most other social media-type stuff is that they are so cheap and quick, that it is easy to dive in, explore, and shape strategy as you go.

The other great thing about Twitter and most other social-media type stuff is that you can ask your users what they want.

I am part of a team that runs @USArmy, and I’ve played around with different content, asked specifically what people wanted, and am now experimenting with measuring click-through rate.

Dennis McKenna

Certainly see Twitter getting more lift in a range of interesting applications in govt. As noted in recent article the Washington State Department of Transportation has successfully deployed Twitter to keep public up-to-date with traffic alerts and route changes for ferries, but is also moving to deploy the service as a continuity of service tool to help unburden overloaded web servers when emergencies arise and the public are looking for information fast.