Components of an Ideal Local Government Social Media Seminar

Over the MLK holiday weekend, I did some organized thinking on what a good local government social media seminar would entail.

I advise few rules in use of social media, but internal processes, guidelines and training are important for improving coordination and value of official efforts. Additionally, there are simple risk management practices that can save agencies future damage.

The ideal local government social media seminar would be developed and presented by in-house practitioners, legal counsel, communications and IT, and might include topics like these:

  • Review existing policies regarding communication and IS use;
  • Why? Demonstrate local use statistics;
  • The personal/professional profile;
  • Government and campaigns – maintaining separation;
  • Passwords, access, continuity and transition – planning to last, treating digital assets like physical;
  • Security and viruses;
  • Creating records – official process or reposted material with unofficial discussion only;
  • The ‘party line’ and the open mic (social media communications are public communications);
  • Tools for citizen engagement: SeeClickFix/CitySourced, etc., Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, YouTube (length), LBS, blogging, Tumblr;
  • Handling comments – Air Force and EPA charts;
  • Facebook ads – targeting for programmatic outreach;
  • Legal – compare and contrast issues of personal and official e-mail and private social conversations;
  • Following practices, Targeting, gaining friends and fans;
  • Frequency, corrections and updates;
  • Empowered employees, interactive electeds

What would you add?

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Andrew Krzmarzick

Hi Adriel – I kept it pretty simple in terms of the outline for a one-day social media seminar:

1 – Laying the Foundation: Goals, Objectives and Outcome

2 – Constructing the Conversations: Tools and Content

3 – Measuring Twice, Cutting Once: Monitoring and Metrics

When I’ve conducted training for cities or agencies, I find that most people are pretty overwhelmed and burned out by mid-afternoon…so you may want to chop up the delivery of the information above into individual modules or super short segments and make it interactive to keep it from being an avalanche of (awesome) information.

Avatar photo Bill Brantley

Good stuff! I also like Andrew’s three points.

As a way to make the information concrete, you might want to have some role-playing that simulates typical scenarios of social media situations. For example, interacting with constituents on Facebook or responding to a Twitter stream. You may want to start with easy exchanges with well-mannered citizens and then ratchet up the intensity so that you use the social media tools to do deal with a virtual angry mob.

Andrew Krzmarzick

Great ideas, Bill.

Adriel – Another exercise that I incorporated in the training session was to draw a line down a whiteboard or flip charte and ask them to list all of their current communications activities. On the left side I made a list of those current channels of communication. I then wrote a list of new media channels and tools on the right side and proceeded to map them together, explaining how they were already producing content that could be re-purposed quickly to extend their reach to a broader audience on the web. Here’s an example:

Andrew Krzmarzick

P.S. Here are some of the presentations that I delivered in the past for local government. Many of the slides are similar and structured the same, but I almost always tried to customize it and use examples from the city or state where I was presenting.

Texas CPM Program

Texas Municipal League

Village of Western Springs, IL

Also, the structure was more along the lines of:
1 – What is Government 2.0 / Social Media?
2 – What are the various tools? (went through them one by one)
3 – Who is using them well? (shared leading practice examples)
4 – How do you get started and set them up? (walked them through the process of creation in real-time)

Adriel Hampton

Thanks, Andrew, great resources – great exercise on integrated comms.

Bill, love the idea of modeling.

This outline is more in terms of a municipality already convinced and even using the tools, but attempts to address the most common types of questions I get in a basic social media intro presentation and from gov’t officials – targeted to an internal audience.

One of the biggest challenges is always finding the right level for a particular audience.

Darrel W. Cole


You definitely got this down from a big picture and I will freely steal it as well! I always take the micro look at government and its interaction with the public on specific issues that impact specific groups or geographic areas. Given that the majority of people don’t care what the government does until it impacts them. That’s where social media and all the outreach/PR tools (following with what Andrew said below) can be an incredible strategic tool for government, while also engaging and reaching out to a specific impacted public. The key is to do this outreach before it happens. So the question for government from my perspective is what outreach and engagement opportunities do they have, and are they capable of first doing the basic outreach (going door to door, meeting people, holding meetings, etc.) before they take on social media as the be all and end all.

In the post here for John F. Moore’s Government In the Lab site, I talk about the specific issue. http://govinthelab.com/open-government-starts-locally/