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Social media and citizen engagement

By Microsoft in Government on July 12, 2017

Filed under Microsoft in Government

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The government brand and consumer-citizens

In the digital age, government officials must think of themselves as brands, and of citizens as consumers. We are in an era of consumerization, driven by cloud technologies, social media, and social communication networks that are user-oriented.1

As customer-minded citizens evolve, they are becoming more dependent on social platforms to help build relationships and conduct business. Rising expectations from social media mean that government agencies need to be more connected and responsive to the concerns and complaints of their citizens. Leaders who are active on social media can promote their government brand, a brand that is citizen-centric through high levels of authentic, responsive engagement.

Think about this, 34.5 percent of people cite social media as their top choice for customer care.2 That means people want their information delivered more concisely and faster than ever. More importantly, they want to get information on their own terms, via their preferred communication channels.

It is important for leaders to engage their audiences in ways that help foster meaningful relationships. This is especially true for leaders in government, whose agencies are founded to serve the public.

A strong social presence allows government entities to deliver digital messaging that can be used for a multitude of purposes:

Social listening

Through social media, citizens can ask questions about elections, search for information on new bills, and interact with policymakers in a way that feels more personal and organic. Through social media, you can effectively target constituents, thus expanding your reach. Social media enables leaders in government to listen to their constituents, take in feedback, and respond accordingly.

Let’s say you want to encourage discussion and hear from your constituents about what they feel is important in their community. Through social media, they reveal that along one of the main roads in your town, several potholes have caused accidents that have held up traffic and resulted in some cars being towed.

By using social channels to open communication with your constituents, you can respond immediately to the problem in your community. The proactive approach and responsiveness will increase citizen engagement and build trust. This is why 76% of policymakers say social media enables more meaningful interactions with constituents.

Cause awareness and information sharing

From news and judicial proceedings to protests and community events, social media can be a major asset in terms of public awareness, conversation, and getting your community involved. The use of social media can transform the way you use 311 systems to interact with your citizens.

Social media allows your government to become more responsive and accessible. In conjunction with integrated 311 systems, your citizens can leverage social networks and user-friendly portals to learn about community affairs. Additionally, integrations like this allow the public to stay up-to-date on their requests. Remember those potholes your citizens brought to your attention? Now that you’ve addressed their issues, it would be important to keep them updated on the progress of the road work and educate them on timelines for the repairs. You are not only connecting with your citizens, you are collaborating with them to build a better community.

Crisis communication in emergencies

Considering 62% of adults get their news on social media, it is critical to recognize the versatility of social platforms, especially during important times. Social media can transform the way you communicate with your citizens during an emergency. Weather alerts, evacuation & safety notices, and more, can all be communicated in real time. Social media gives you the power to organize your community through publicized information that educates them of the dangers of certain situations, places, or events. In a way, it offers officials a chance to live-stream news that keeps the public safe during uneasy circumstances.

Social media, the key to citizen engagement

To understand your citizens, you must understand how they consume information, what they want to consume, and when they want to consume it. Think about social engagement as a strategy: your main goals would be to establish a connection with your citizens, build relationships, and influence your audience through thoughtful, impactful content, whether that be general information, or important news.

Social media has the power to connect agencies with their citizens, promoting shared values and mutual understanding. But, government officials and agencies must stay secure and compliant while using social media to connect with citizens. Simple measures such as single dashboards and management platforms can prevent the release of sensitive or classified information. Additionally, having compliance guidelines in place for acceptable and forbidden content, tone, and best practices is crucial to social in government success.3

Social media can also assist agencies in improving their public perception. Though there are major differences in consumer brands and government entities, leaders in government should note that being on active on social media is all about maintaining and promoting a brand that is citizen-centric, honest, and engaging. If agencies can do this, they are likely to increase brand affinity and their citizens will want to engage in conversation and community building.

By using social media to address citizen problems, share relevant news, and educate the public, you are promoting your agency as one that not only governs the people but supports, empathizes, and most of all, listens to them.

Now is the time to create new opportunities for your government agency and your citizens. Learn how you can increase citizen engagement by sharpening your social media skills and creating a Social Command Center.

Download your Social Command Center solution pack and learn how to get started today.

Click to explore and download your copy of the Social Media and Citizen Engagement infographic

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