Greg on Social Media in Civic Government

July 22, 2011 — Leave a comment

I was quoted in a two-page Chaska Herald feature on civic government communications discussing the opportunity of utilizing social media:

The highs and lows of social media

Social media is a powerful way for civic government to connect with its social-savvy citizenry,” wrote Greg Swan, a Chaska resident and vice president of digital strategy for Weber Shandwick. “The city of Minneapolis uses Facebook and Twitter to announce snow plowing. Stillwater residents promote community garage sales via Facebook. Shakopee posts video from their music in the park series on a city YouTube channel. The Chaska Police Department uses Nixle to send SMS text alerts about breaking news in town.

Jumping on the Bandwidthwagon

Greg Swan, a Chaska resident and vice president of Digital Strategy for Weber Shandwick, would agree for the most part, but he still has some constructive criticism for the city.

“Like many organizations and businesses, the city of Chaska jumped on the Facebook page bandwagon, but hasn’t had a strategic communication and community management strategy to ensure updates are timely, questions are answered and that the page adds value to its fans,” he wrote in an e-mail.

Podhradsky gets that, acknowledging, “We gotta be better at this.”

While critical, Swan also understands the challenges cities like Chaska face.

“To be sure, Chaska government officials have plenty on their plates, and in an era of limited resources, we taxpayers want them to prioritize their efforts,” he wrote. “Yet, in many cases, a dormant social media profile is worse than a non-existent one … It’s of-ten difficult to justify return on investment in moving resources into social media, but the opportunity cost of not participating in conversations about your community can be high.

I also put together a “5 Social Media Trends to Embrace/5 Social Media Trends to Ignore” sidebar that ran within the feature.

Five social media trends to embrace

* Online monitoring of what people are saying about your community

* Social community building and engagement with two-way conversations

* Real-time event coverage (photos/video/news) on social channels

* Social focus-grouping, letting your online advocates get involved

* Live streams of public meetings with real-time chats

Five social media trends to ignore

* Establishing social media channels without a content and community management policy

* Outsourcing social media management to vendors

* Editing Wikipedia, which is against site policy for affiliated organizations

* Focusing so much on ROI that you miss out on the conversation happening today

* Google+, which hasn’t yet set guidelines for non-humans

It was a fantastic round-up by the Chaska Herald with stories on the faces behind city social channels, the role of public safety in social and interviews with social channels from Eden Prairie, Chanhassen, Chaska, School District 112, Carver and Carver County. They should enter it for an award. I’m serious.

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