Profile Pics and Hashtags
Social media—love it or hate it—is engrained in society. It allows individuals to create and share content and network through various websites and applications quickly. Estimates suggest that more than one billion people (that’s one seventh of the world’s population!) use some form of social media, making it one of the most common forms of communication today. Fun fact: Facebook is the most popular social networking site, with more than 936 million daily active users.
Granville County doesn’t use social media at all. Some entities (like the library and the tourism department) have their own Facebook and Twitter accounts, but the county itself does not. One of my side projects is drafting a memo for the county manager with general information about best practices and policies for using social media in a local government setting. I’m not done yet, but I’ve found some good stuff so far and learned a lot along the way (the Pew Research Center has done some fascinating research on social networking—who uses it, what they use it for, etc.—so definitely check it out if you’re interested).
There are several benefits associated with having a social media presence: you can reach a lot of people quickly, it’s pretty user-friendly, and it’s free (for the most part). But along with those benefits come several considerations, especially for local governments. Not only does someone have to make an account (or multiple accounts), but someone has to monitor it, update it, and respond to the comments people post on it. Beyond that, local governments have to think about complying with state records retention guidelines and information requests and security concerns.
As Granville County moves forward, it will be important for county officials to craft a comprehensive social media strategy. They should define why they are using social media in the first place, determine which platform best matches their goals, determine who will have access to and monitor their accounts, write a use policy, and archive the content the accounts generate. Once they finish all of that, let the social networking begin!
If you know any local governments or counties that do a particularly good job with social media, let me know. Ideas are appreciated and welcome!