I returned last Thursday from O’Reilly’s Gov 2.0 Expo in Washington DC with a long list of “next steps” and action items for myself. One of the first people I met there asked the familiar question we all hear at conferences, “So, what do you hope to get out of this conference?” and my answer wasn’t something I had rehearsed since it just seemed natural that I would be part of Gov 2.0 Expo. After a short pause, I told her that I wanted to develop a better understanding how we, local government, could get citizens to engage with us. This seems pretty straightforward and there are plenty of vendors whose products “engage citizens” but that’s not what I’m talking about. The technology is there, I work on a technology team, we know the technology in the space. I want to know about everything else, not just technology. I want to know how to get citizens to wake up and think to themselves “I want to engage with government today.”
With the simple goal of learning how to get citizens to want to engage with San Francisco’s government, I set-off to Dan Zarella’s presentation on “Creating a Social Media Strategy: The Data Shows Why It’s Important.” For government a social media strategy typically includes addressing all the legal implications of social media, rather than a strategy for reaching the broadest group of people and making the largest impact on them. Social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, are tools used by large companies to reach their audience where they are already engaged. As such, government should be using the same tools to market ourselves and services by going to the places they are already engaged and active.
Dan Zarella has compelling data and insights on how to best market yourself or company using social media. Most of Dan’s examples were not specific to government, however the overall marketing strategy can apply. For starters understand the audience using the different tools. Once you know your audience you can properly engage them, use them to make your marketing message viral.
From Dan’s presentation I realized people are motivated to action, whether it be re-tweeting or actual volunteering, when the message is clear, there’s a call-to-action, and they are being engaged in their own communities. The first “next step” on my list is to create a social media strategy for my next project and ensure that I apply Dan Zarella’s advice to the strategy.