A few weeks ago, GovLoop released a new guide, “The Social Media Experiment in Government: Elements of Excellence” that highlights bright spots of social media experimentation in government. The activities discussed in the guide have led to clear outcomes and mission-related impact along core functional areas. Our goal was to create a highly practical resource to share with key stakeholders in helping you make the case for further social media experimentation in government.
I want to focus in one unique example of social media experimentation in community planning that took place in the City of Salem, Massachusetts, which we highlight in the guide. The city realized it needed more feedback and ideas into the future community planning projects it was attempting to undertake. Residents all had numerous ideas for the future of their community but had no way to share them in a socially collaborative way. That’s when city officials looked to an unlikely source for engaging their citizens and giving them an innovative way to voice opinions about the community planning.
The city teamed up two with regional development coalitions and a local college to produce an online community planning game called, “What’s the Point?”. Developed by the Engagement Game Lab at Emerson College the game allowed community members to interact electronically with city officials to contribute ideas to shape the future of the neighborhood. To play the game, players log into the website and complete a series of timed “missions” which focus on different aspects of neighborhood life, including living, playing, doing business and getting around. When completing missions the feedback is sent to city officials and the players earn virtual coins that can be used to contribute to real-world nonprofit organizations within the community.
What the City of Salem and their partners saw was a level of social interaction amongst its citizens through a game platform that wouldn’t have been possible otherwise. While citizens were “playing” a game they were also providing valuable input to their city officials about the future of their community. Best of all, the game included a way for citizens to give back to their community through the virtual coins they had earned, providing an even larger incentive for citizens to be engaged and excited about the community planning game.
“What’s the Point?” showcases a unique way for citizens to interact with each other and city officials and rewards their participation through donations to the various organizations.
How can you increase a social media presence – including a gaming element – to achieve a stronger interaction between citizens and your agency or government?
Check out the Social Media Experiment in Government: Elements of Excellence guide by viewing below of Downloading the PDF.
Thank you to our industry partner GovDelivery for sponsoring this GovLoop guide. If you have any questions about the guide or social media in government, please reach out to Andrew Krzmarzick, GovLoop Director of Community Engagement, at [email protected].