You’re Still Doing it Wrong: Public Officials & Social Media

You, dear public servant, need to be visible and encourage TWO-WAY communication with your constituents.

Yesterday I went to a business association meeting (yay me with the on-timeness!!) where local officials discussed upcoming projects and as usual, wag their fingers about showing up to council meetings and the like. “If it’s important to you, you need to show up to the council meetings!” is what they say. That attitude tells me 1) it’s not our job to make participation easy for you and 2) eff your newfangled ideas. When I start telling the (usually male) official about being a single parent entrepreneur – I don’t even get to the homeschooling part before they zone out. They think I’m looking for a concession for myself because I don’t want the kids to miss dinner. They want to look out at butts in seats – that’s the only engagement they can think to measure. So I grit my teeth smile and move on.

Much is made of the presidential candidates and their social media platforms, but the local races have much more to do with how you live every day. Also, the clusterf**k at our nation’s highest levels STARTS with the local level. If we wish to have rational, intelligent people in Congress and representing us to the world – we need to make being a politician a much more desirable job. Effective leadership, participative governance, and healthy municipal finances begin with relationships and knowing who represents you at the local government level.

What would I like to see? I would like to see local officials think of the city as a brand, and themselves as local celebrities. Celebs know the value of building relationships with fans. Even hotels with marketing budgets depend on Instagram to give them the back and forth communication with guests that drive their success. Consider the importance of your smartphone to your life. You can pull information from everywhere on everything through the magic of Google – except details that govern your daily life. Even when officials have social media accounts, they lay dormant except for election time, when they bombard you with BS promises. Businesses thrive on relationships with their clients and customers that they constantly grow and nurture. And you, dear public servant, have a similar need to be visible and encourage TWO-WAY communication with your constituents. I also want to see the cities as a whole think of themselves as a cohesive entity, but that’s a post for another time.

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