Social Media and The National League of Cities
Essential Concepts for State Leagues
- Social Engagement is about joining with existing conversations on the audiences’ terms.
- Sometimes, no conversation means no interest, and that should tell you something is wrong.
- NLC’s relevance depends on awareness that conversations occur with or without them.
- Consumers will ignore “corporatized” communications and look for human engagement.
- Your audience expects you to join on their terms, wherever they are. Think cocktail party.
- The tools you embrace for communication must allow engagement of this type as their highest priority.
- Done well, these changes will cause you to align with your audience naturally in a sort of social equilibrium.
- Some organizations resist this alignment because it feels like a loss of control. The truth is that the control was always in your audiences’ hands.
- If Social Media engagement seems to be a burden, or feels like a waste, you may be doing it wrong – and/or – your organization may just be badly out of alignment with its audience.
Ideas for How State League Organizations Can Use Social Media
- Gathering, Tagging and Sharing Information
- Showcasing Municipality Successes
- Supporting Events (pre, during, after)
- Reputation Management / Crisis Management
- Engage With Communities they Serve on the Communities’ Terms.
- Connecting with other States, Person to Person.
- Collaboration on Documents, Ideas, Events for the Organization
Practical Tips for Successful Blogging and/or Facebooking
- Listen First
See how it’s done. Find influential bloggers in multiple industries and in multiple topics to follow. Use an RSS reader.
- Join Groups
Engage yourself with conversations that are occurring already (e.g. Facebook Wall, Discussions, Links)
- Determine a Goal for your Blog/Facebook Page
What are you out to accomplish? (e.g. replace email newsletter, encourage feedback, talk to journalists)
- Establish Success Metrics
Is it working? Why or why not? (e.g. better informed audience, easier event planning, faster response to news)
- Get a Feel for Posting Before Going Public
Put together a series of posts in your favorite word processor without publishing them. Come back in a week and ask yourself “would I get value from reading this?”
- Develop a Publication Process
Most bloggers manage this on their own just fine. Do you need help? How are you going to moderate comments?
- Design the Blog
Simple is good. Some of the best blogs out there are without flourish. Don’t bog down in the aesthetics.
- Establish Connections
Connect your blog to your website, your Facebook page, your Twitter account, and other blogs using web standards such as RSS.
- Be Honest and Authentic
Your blog’s credibility depends on it. Be human, make mistakes, laugh at yourself, and show your personality. You were hired into the position for a reason!
- Be Unique and Use Intriguing Headlines
Don’t use “Sam’s Blog for Monday” as your post headline. Think about what would “grab” people who are skimming headlines. Engage your readers’ curiosity and expertise. Get controversial.
- Use the Blog as Your Go-To Destination
Refer people to the blog instead of answering questions in email or publishing paper. Train people that your blog is where they’ll find things.
- Guest Post
Look for opportunities to post on other blogs (e.g. another State-level League of Cities blog or city-level municiple sites) This is a terrific way to increase your readership and build community in your audience.
- Look For Opportunities To Answer Questions
Use Social Monitoring Tools to watch for questions to be asked about your communities on Twitter, Blogs, Forums, Etc.
Syndicated News, Reports, Updates
Member cities’ websites could display syndicated news on their own sites, expanding the visibility and reach of NLC and State-Level League organizations.
State Level Social Networks
Using NING or another Social Network platform, imagine a system where member cities’ representatives and state-level leagues interacted online. Discussions, blog posts and shared documents could flow seamlessly within the state organization.
National Level Social Networks
Using NING or another Social Network platform imagine the ability to network before a conference, or to discuss ideas between states in open discussion. Facebook can work for this in a pinch.
National and State Level Twitter Accounts
Using Twitter, publish events, notices of new material, or kudos to cities/towns which have achieved milestones via the larger network.
State-Level Blogs for (Enthusiastic) Individuals and Member City Representatives
For passionate and active members of the state level cities, provide standardized blog software and tie-ins to the website so they can publish at will. Invite similarly enthusiastic city-level members to participate either in their own blog or as guest authors for the state.
Statistics and Interesting Facts
What if city facts and statistics were published via blog format so that they had an RSS feed that journalists and bloggers could subscribe to. What if the NLC branded the original resources and asked bloggers to simply link back if they use the charts. What if the data were presented via Google Maps Mashup which showed the relationship between cities geographically.
What if the community of League offices could comment on priorities in the form of a voting system so that NLC could align its goals to the priorities of its members?
What if the community of League offices used Google Moderator to help decide on agendas for conferences, events and meetings – allowing members to post questions and vote on those already posted.
What if the reports were open for discussion, where topical threads of conversation could occur beneath them? What if members could provide reviews of the reports on the basis of their usefulness and suggest directions for new research.
Awards and Recognition
What if the recognition earned by towns and cities could be published through Social Networks such as Twitter and Facebook. What if comments and responses were aggregated so those organized could feel the memberships’ congratulations first hand?
Awards and Recognition
What if city awards and recognitions were sent out via Twitter and posted on blogs or social media so that the community at large could offer its congratulations and pay attention to the success.
What if certain, passionate members of the NLC staff used individual blogs to communicate about what is happening in the organization. What if they did so in a way that an aggregated feed of all staff-members’ activity was visible on the site and could be subscribed to and commented on by members/visitors to the site. Each staff member could use Twitter to send out short updates of news.
What if each committee’s activities were captured on a committee Blog, which could be subscribed to via RSS or email individually or as a whole. What if tagged photographs and videos were captured during various events and meetings using inexpensive digital video cameras. For very popular meetings, a live stream of the event could be projected via ustream over the web.
Each event could have a NING social network for building connections before, during and after an event. An official Twitter hashtag could be set up that guided attendees on what’s going on, where things are and more (This is already used in conferences.)
What if the news was delivered as blog content, with RSS so that standard feedreaders could digest it and display it – and where members could comment on the stories in open discussion. What if stories could be “voted” on and sorted by reader rating.
What if the topics, such as Federal Relationship update, were provided in a standardized blog format so that they could be tagged, sorted and searched – as well as subscribed to via RSS.
State Level Blogs
What if the NLC provided each State Office their own blog and basic training on how to use it. The blog posts could then be aggregated into a community feed at the state and even national level.
- Groundswell: Winning in a world transformed by social technologies
- Common Craft – What is RSS
- POST Method for Social Strategy
- See Jason’s post about “empowering actual communities with social media“
- Twitter Search
- WordPress.org (blogging platform)
Note: I do not recommend using wordpress.com for a blog. It’s best to have it on your own domain name.
- Ning – Build Your Own Social Network.
- Lifestream Backup – http://lifestreambackup.com
- Ustream.tv – http://ustream.tv
Links to Example Sites from Presentation
Hamilton County Job and Family Services
- Website: http://www.hcjfs.hamilton-co.org/
- Blog: http://hcjfs.wordpress.com/
- YouTube Channel: http://www.youtube.com/hcjfs
- BlogTalkRadio: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/Hamilton-County-JFS
- Website: http://www.peoriaaz.gov/
- Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Peoria-AZ/City-of-Peoria-Arizona/30986478837
- Twitter: http://twitter.com/peoriaAZ
Deval Patrick, Governor of Massachusetts
- Website: http://www.mass.gov/?pageID=gov3homepage&L=1&L0=Home&sid=Agov3
- Twitter: http://twitter.com/massgovernor
- Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/massgovernor