5 Ways for Counties to Leverage Social Media

As social media becomes an increasingly integral part of everyday life, more counties and county officials are turning to social media to communicate with the public. From bustling counties at the edge of the Metroplex to those sitting quietly atop the Edward’s Plateau in West Texas, Twitter and Facebook are becoming the unifying vehicle for connecting with constituents.
Social media, when used effectively as a communications tool, can produce tangible benefits for the county government mission, like cost savings, time savings, broader reach to constituents and key stakeholders, more valuable input for decision-making and feedback on the quality of the work various departments are doing. 
Below is a short list of just some ways county governments can leverage social media.

1. Reach underserved audiences with key messages

The truth is, not everyone reads the paper anymore and most people don’t visit the county website or the courthouse itself unless they absolutely have to. People are busy with their daily commute, family obligations and life in general. They often miss the county message, but they find time to log on to social media, even if just for a few minutes. According to the Pew Research Center, 73 percent of U.S. adults used social media regularly last year. Counties can meet them online with the message.

Get accurate information out more quickly during emergencies

During a disaster, many people watch the TV or listen to the radio for news, but they are increasingly turning to Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms — where they can get the news faster. Counties can use social media to cut out the middle-man and take their message directly to the people in their local communities. During the 2013 Halloween floods in Central Texas, the Bastrop County Office of Emergency Management used social media to connect with residents and keep them informed in a fast-changing situation.

3. Encourage followers to sign up for emails on topics important to them

The interactions on social media sites sometimes seem fleeting, but they can be used to build and sustain more in-depth constituent communications. Counties can direct followers to an email sign-up page on the county website and encourage residents to sign up for email alerts in areas and departments that interest them. Once a visitor opts in to receive emails, they have given the county permission to continue a longer-term conversation with them as stakeholders, on the issues they find important.

4. Leverage the time and talent of the local community

People are proud of where they choose to live. Rather than spending money on a professional photographer to take pictures, crowdsource them. Ask residents to send in their favorite pictures of the county. Let them know that by sending them, they agree to let them be used in county publications and marketing. While the actual cost-savings may be small, the victory in building and sustaining county pride is immeasurable.

5. Reach a wider talent pool of potential employees

Job boards, newspapers, job fairs and other traditional recruiting methods are still important when searching for the right candidate, but when it comes to positions that require specialized skill sets that are in high demand, the supply of good candidates can be low. Social media can help you cast a wider net and reach those qualified job seekers that may not otherwise hear about your job openings. 

“The first time we had office-holders post job openings on Facebook, they reported that they had a lot more applicants than they had been getting in the past, and they were good quality applicants, too,” said former Houston County Judge Lonnie Hunt.

Whether a county is just now ready to begin using social media, or is looking to expand its online presence and ramp up existing social media efforts, TAC has assembled several resource pages at to provide county officials with the information and resources they need. Officials with questions about applying social media to their specific needs can contact TAC communications staff at (800) 456-5974.


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