Ask a hundred people and no doubt you will get a hundred different opinions about social media. Some will look at disdain at the medium feeling it’s designed to do nothing more than share photographs of your lunch; others will feel that it provides a new way to communicate with your friends and develop new relationships. No matter where you stand on social media, it is safe to say that social media is not a phenomenon; it is truly something that is here to stay.
The concepts and applications of social media present unique challenges to local governments. Throughout the country, local governments are grappling with how to use social media to not only present timely and accurate information to residents, but also to provide a rich and meaning opportunity to interact with residents. Communities that take advantage of social media are finding that those opportunities to interact with residents become the most important aspect of social media that need to be explored.
American society has changed; it seems that we are all busier than we have ever been. Whether it is going to your son’s basketball game or going out shopping for the groceries, the demands on our time have never been greater. Local governments are learning that those busy people often have great ideas and informed opinions on the happenings in the community. Social media can help not only inform residents, but also engage those super active residents in developing platforms that allow people to put in their two cents on community issues on their terms.
The City of Piqua is working to engage residents on a full array of social media platforms. The City of Piqua has an active Facebook page (City of Piqua, Ohio Government) with over 1,200 likes and the page is continually updated with new information. Additionally, the City has recently introduced its own Twitter account (@CityofPiqua) with 74 followers. Again, the city’s Twitter account is filled with timely information about the community with happenings around town.
More than this, the City is working with other social platforms as well. Last year, the City of Piqua worked with the social media company NextDoor to provide this platform to our community’s residents. NextDooris a social media program that is provided at no cost and is a social networking site for neighborhoods. Each neighborhood has its own social media site in which information is only accessed by verified individuals in your neighborhood. As a user you can post information and read about items of a neighborhood interest. The City of Piqua was the first community in Ohio to have NextDoorprovided citywide. Currently, we have 150 users on NextDoor and we are always encouraging more residents to go to www.nextdoor.com to sign up.
Another new social networking platform that the City of Piqua will be introducing shortly is MindMixer. MindMixeris used by over 400 communities nationwide to solicit and get feedback on different ideas on how to improve the community. Have you ever had the idea, ”Piqua would be great if [fill in the blank]”? Soon, through MindMixer, residents will have opportunity to throw their ideas out and gain valuable feedback on the idea. Also, the City can use MindMixerto help solicit comments on new projects that are proposed for the community. MindMixerhas the opportunity to be a great tool for citizen engagement.
The success of any social media platform eventually relies on you, the user. These platforms do not work if our residents do not take the time to get involved and provide their input on the future of their community. The City of Piqua is continually working hard to engage our residents and make their ideas and comments more inclusive of the community decision making process. The community understands that with new technologies we can do a better job of getting more and better input from those residents that may feel shut out of the process. From Facebook, Twitter, NextDoor and soon, MindMixer, it has never been easier to be part of the on-line community engagement platforms that are out there for our community. I challenge you to take advantage of them and make our community great.