Rural local governments across the country have historically had something of a tougher time than their more populated counterparts when it comes to connecting with their citizens. Greater distances, lower incomes, slower Internet access and hesitancy about adaption of certain communications technologies have proven to be the main challenges. This phenomenon is especially prevalent in the western United States, where there is an abundance of land and far fewer people per square mile. (A bit about the “digital divide.”)
It is precisely for these reasons that rural governments should consider jumping on the opportunity to using social media tools – in cooperation with existing outreach and communications – to connect with their citizens. A great example is Moffat County, Colorado. Situated in the northwest corner of the state, Moffat is the second largest county in Colorado (4,756 square miles) but has a relatively small population of only 13,818 people. Moffat County Commissioner Audrey Danner has seen firsthand the effectiveness of social media tools. Commissioner Danner spearheaded the county’s new website and has her own Facebook page. “I’ve embraced these tools, and they have really proven effective at getting the message out to my constituents. More importantly, they’ve provided a forum for the citizens to share information with me – which helps me do my job better.”
I’ll be detailing Moffat County’s experiences in future posts. Stay tuned.
Have you seen rural governments embracing new communications? How do you think they’re doing?