GovLoop’s Guide to Getting Started with
Social Media in Your City
•“We hooked our social media sites to our
websites RSS feeds so there can be indirect
updates with new information or calendar
listings.”- Amanda Paez
•“These sites are also a great resource for
educating residents about their community
via“did you know?”discussions, treasure
hunts and the like...The key to its success is
keeping things fresh and providing value.”
- Ryan Link
Responses from the GovLoop Community:
•“Fair amount of resources here:
govsocmed.pbworks.com”- Adriel Hampton
•“Look for tools to intergrate channels. I’ve
heard people use HootSuite to time out
Twitter/FB updates in future”- GovLoop
•“Promote useful information for citizens,
i.e. agenda for‘XYZ’posted here.”
- Justin Mosebach
Solved: Over a dozen responses later James is ready to get going
on his social media strategy! (And now we have a new guide)
Why Social Media?
It’s fast. It’s viral. It’s awesome.
Social media helps municipals in a core mission - reach more people around government
information and activities.
• It’s where people are. There are over 500 million users on Facebook and over 100 million
users on Twitter.
• You can get more people to use municipal services by raising awareness online.
• You can get more people to come and be involved in municipal activities.
• Received important feedback on townhall meetings or budgets.
• Emergency communication
• Potential cost savings and increased revenus. There is a minimal cost to using social media.
• And you’re going to receive better return on investment.
For more help check out these“fly”GovLoop Groups:
Twitterati, Gov 2.0 club, Geeks in Government, Social Media Club, Social Media Obsessed, Social
Media for Government
5 Steps To Get Started With Twitter
1. Define your target audience. Some questions to keep in mind:
Is your audience on twitter?
Why you would be tweeting?
What do you need to communicate?
Who do you need to communicate with?
Why do you need to communicate via twitter?
2. Conduct a search using search.twitter.com to find out what people are saying about your
agency or your area of interest (does not require a person to create an account).
This will provide you with preliminary research to assess if Twitter is right for you.
3. Go to govtwit.com and search for other agencies using twitter and learn from their
There is a lot of information out there; chances are someone has already done it. Go
and find it.
4. Define your content.
What will you be sharing?
5. Create an account.
After steps 1-4 you are ready to dive in! Remember GovLoop is always here to help
you stay awesome!
Five Gov-related Hashtags:
5 Steps To Get Started With Facebook Pages
Facebook Page is a fan page or profile.
1. Login and create a page: www.facebook.com/page.
(You can transfer administrator rights to another user)
Categorize and Name your page. Chose“Brand, Product, or Organization,”this includes
Government. Both actions are permanent.
2. Add Content.
Change the picture.
Click‘edit information’and fill in as much information as you can.
Post a link, video or photo to get started with.
Suggest to friends.
Create a Facebook badge to add to your website or blog.
5. Publish interesting and relevant content.
The thing that will keep users coming back.
Update regularly, but please no spamming.
Post and tag users in photos & videos from events.
Try to respond to as many comments and posts as you can.
Answer and pose questions i.e. :
“What part of the city do you feel needs most improvement?”
“On a scale of 1 to 10, how clean would you say our city streets are?”
Promote an exceptional identity around your city.
*After theres been ample activity on the page you may unlock Facebook Page Statistics! Just
like Google Analytics it provides you with stats, graphs, demographics, charts etc.
5 Steps To Get Started With YouTube
YouTube is a video platform service and also the worlds second largest search engine.
1. What kind of video content do you already have on your website?
2. Can people grab that video quickly and share it on their website? If not, it’s super easy
to upload videos to YouTube. But first…
3. Define your content.
What will you be sharing?
4. Create account.
5. Upload videos!
Steps to upload a video from YouTube
1. Once you have logged in click on the upload button, usually at the top of any YouTube page
2. Next click on“Upload video;”browse and select the file you would like to upload.
3. While the video uploads, you can input information about the video such as Title,
Description, Tags and Category. The more information the better (Makes videos easier
4. Click“Save changes”
5. You also have the option to copy and paste the URL or Embed the code into a page to have
it show up on your website.
1. What kind of photo content do you already have on your website?
Can people view and share photos quickly? If not, it’s super easy to upload photos to
Flickr. But first…
2. Conduct a search using Google to find what images might be out there associated with
you or the organization. (Flickr is a great way to allow people to upload photos to a
3. Define your content.
What will you be sharing?
Do you have albums of images or just a few photographs?
Do people take photos at your events and would you like to share them afterward?
4. Create account. Flickr allows users to share photos with anyone, add comments, tag
people and categories. You can also import contacts from e-mail to make sharing much
easier. Flickr also connects to your Facebook and Twitter accounts for sharing.
You can enable people to upload, share and comment photos via Flickr.
You can embed photos to be used as“slide presentations”on other sites.
You can also create dynamic badges to embed on your website.
5. Upload photos!
You can upload photos through a multitude of channels: mobile, e-mail,browser, or
Flickr allows you to group your images into collections and sets, if you’d like you can
have single albums or albums within albums.
*You want to make sure you tag all of your images and ask other users to tag as well. This
is important because it helps to define your online content. This can help others search for
your images more easily and helps you to index the content which makes it easier to show
up on search engine results.
5 Steps To Get Started With Flickr
Flickr is an online photo management and sharing application
Alex Showerman was tasked with creating an online community for the town of Canton, NY (comprised of
approx. 6,000 residents).
He first started with a Facebook page, which has steadily grown to over 3,000 fans. Next he created a
WordPress blog to generate content directly from the city of Canton.
He describes the fan page as having three main purposes:
1. To promote events and businesses within the community
2. Improve town-gown relations (it was a college town)
3. Provide a platform for people to discuss local issues and for decision makers to gather information.
Here are some of the lessons he learned:
1. Avoid automation. Although linking RSS feeds and other tools to your page will save
time, they are a great way to bore your fans. Its similar to calling a company and wanting
to speak to a real person and getting an automated system. It’s easier for the company,
but annoying for the consumer.
2. Make sure the content is engaging, ask lots of questions. One way he did this is by
incorporating a question of the day (it was everything from“what is your favorite thing
about Canton?”to“should there be a gas station in the historic part of main street?”)
Don’t be afraid to touch the hot button topics, for those are the ones that people want to
talk about. The more people talk, the greater your message will spread virally.
3. Drum-up community pride, share events, comment on local sports team successes,
congratulate a local graduating class, promote fundraisers for families in need. All of
these things get people excited and engaged on your site.
4. Don’t worry about negative comments, they are just part of the dialogue. Only delete
comments that would not be allowed on the radio or TV.
5. Encourage local decision makers to get online. He encouraged the mayor of Canton
to join Facebook. Having her on the page made it more exciting for people to interact,
people could answer the mayor’s questions or get feed back from the mayor.
6. Have fun with it! If you enjoy working on the page, then people will come.
CASE STUDY: CANTON, NY