Nextdoor Social Network to Appear at GSMRT


We’re excited to announce that Nextdoor, the private social network for neighborhoods, will participate in our regional social media training in Huntington Beach, California, on Sept. 14.

Nextdoor works with public agencies to reach residents in their communities. Their team will host a session focused on how governments can get the most out of the network. Attendees will also hear how some of the agencies in California have used the free service, such as the Huntington Beach Police Department.

Learn more about the Government Social Media Regional Training and register today! Can’t attend in person? Grab your virtual pass to watch session recordings online.


Top 10 Things People Do When They Find out Your Job Involves Social Media

Top 10 Things People Do

I had some time on the general session stage at #GSMCON2016, so I wanted to do something fun. My original idea was to do a spinoff of reading “Mean Tweets”, which would be “Mean Conference Feedback”, but Mai Linh Johnson, our director of events, told me it wasn’t a good idea… So instead, I presented the “Top 10 Things People Do When they Find out Your Job Involves Social Media”.

#10. They ask if you can fix their Facebook.

#10 They ask if you can fix their Facebook

Because you have nothing better to do. And not their “Facebook page” or “Facebook Profile”, just “Facebook”.

#9. They cut out newspaper articles that mention using social media & save them for you.

#9. They cut out newspaper articles that mention using social media & save them for you.

Am I the only one? Relatives and their friends do this to me all the time. It will literally be a random article that happens to mention that a business has a social media strategy or something.

#8. They nod politely and secretly have no idea what you do.

#8. They nod politely and secretly have no idea what you do.

Happens. All. The. Time.

#7. They ask if their taxpayer dollars are paying for this.

#7. They ask if their taxpayer dollars are paying for this.

There are always some people who don’t see the value in social media for the public sector.

#6. They ask you to make sure something goes viral.

#6. They ask you to make sure something goes viral.

Because it’s that easy. Don’t you think if we could make everything go viral, we’d do it for every single post we made?

#5. #They #assume #you #love #hashtags #on #everything

#5. #They #assume #you #love #hashtags #on #everything

Please, #StopOverHashtagging

#4. They say, “Does that mean you’re going to tweet what we’re saying right now?”

#4. They say, "Does that mean you're going to tweet what we're saying right now?"

Well, I wasn’t going to. But if it makes you uncomfortable…

#3. They try to test you by referencing the most obscure social tool or platform they know of.

#3. They try to test you by referencing the most obscure social tool or platform they know of.

Because if you’re unfamiliar with a random social platform that only 5 people are on, well you must be a fraud.

#2. They ask if you have a real job.

#2. They ask if you have a real job.

They are probably wondering if this is really what you do for a living, because it couldn’t possibly be your bread & butter. But ouch.

#1. They ask if you’re hiring.

#1. They ask if you're hiring.

Because you obviously just play on the computer all day!


3 Ways to Take Advantage of Your Social Media Downtime

Woman typing on laptop & coffee

This article originally appeared in the “GovGirl on Social” column in Government Technology Magazine.

Your public agency’s social media program is in a good place. You have already developed a social media policy, implemented strategy, trained staff and are posting regularly using a social media management platform. What to do now that you’re done? The truth is that social media is never actually “done,” but here are three things you can work on when the rest of the process seems to be running smoothly.

1. Work on a process for resolving issues

What is your customer service process for responding to inquiries that are sent to your agency via social media? Do you have a 100 percent response rate displayed on your Facebook business page? Practicing and testing your citizen response process is something you can always work on.

Ensure that your process for answering citizen questions on social media has been made clear. Your profile pages should explain the timeframe in which accounts will be monitored, how quickly to expect a response, and include alternative methods of contact if necessary. Internally, staff members should understand the workflow for responding to inquiries and be ready to do their part.

2. Craft crisis messages

Something big might happen in your community on your watch. It could be a major weather event, large-scale accident or something more nefarious such as a major shooting. When a crisis happens, the onset is usually swift and you’ll have little time to sort out what to say on social media.

While most communications your agency makes on social media will be very specific to the crisis, there are some messages that you can write in advance. These pre-written crisis communication templates are better handled in your social media downtime, not during the disaster.

Consider the first thing your entity should say to your citizens on social media when a crisis happens. Your first response should include a statement that your agency is aware of the situation. You also want to let them know that you’re in the process of looking at it. Finally, your last two elements of that first message should be to express that you care and state that they will hear back from you. While the particulars of these four points will change based on the crisis, the basic template can be prepared ahead of time.

3. Make a list of influencers

Social media influencers are important because their networks tend to be large, so they might be able to help grow your reach by sharing or drawing attention to your posts. Cultivating a decent list of influencers is a good use of your downtime.

How can you find key influencers? Jot down who any influencers might be as it relates to your agency, department or program. These might be people of recognizable status in the community, leaders of boards and commissions, or active participants at public meetings. Search Twitter and Facebook to see if the size of their social media followers reflects their offline status. If so, make an online connection with them.

Perhaps the key online influencers in your community are entirely different than the major players offline. You can use free online tools such as Social Mention or Topsy to discover the handles of online influencers. Simply search for hot topics in your community and take note of the active users. Many times, these individuals are happy to help share or retweet posts by your agency if they align with the type of messages they typically send. You won’t know until you reach out.

Your work is never “done.”

Hopefully these ideas will kick-start your approach to social media downtime and get you thinking about other ways to strategically use these quieter intervals. Remember, you are actually in a lucky position that many social media managers never get to experience.


State of Government Social Media: What’s Changed in 2015?

Social Media

This article originally appeared in the “GovGirl on Social” column in Government Technology Magazine.

Delivering a State of the City (or County) address to the public is an annual expectation of elected leadership. It’s their time to talk about major successes and opportunities for their community over the past year. As we look to the end of 2015, what better time to explore the current state of government social media and how it continues to evolve?


It is exciting to see that social networks are beginning to recognize government as both a big player in the game and valuable to their future. Facebook has an internal government team headed by Government Outreach Manager Katie Harbath. Twitter has a large politics team, and LinkedIn is ramping up government efforts as well. In addition, Nextdoor, the private social network for neighborhoods, has invested in a major product dedicated to helping governments interact with their communities called Nextdoor for Public Agencies.


As social media is now mainstream for most public-sector entities, it’s interesting to note what roles are involved in managing the platforms on the agency’s behalf. In 2015, it is still not the norm to have full-time staff members with titles such as “social media manager” or “social media coordinator,” although we’re seeing it happen more often than in previous years. What we do see are roles like “public information officer” or program managers encompassing more and more social media responsibilities.


While governments continue to struggle with the sheer number of social platforms and trying to determine where best to spend time and energy, many entities are on board for experimentation. Snapchat is now being embraced by various agencies like Las Vegas, the Utah Division of Emergency Management and the White House. And several agencies are now experimenting with live-streaming apps such as Meerkat, Periscope and Facebook Mentions.


Citizens now not only assume that government will be on social platforms, but also expect quick response times. The average person now looks to social media as a satisfactory outlet for complaining or requesting customer service. Agencies are struggling with how to handle social media inquiries during nonbusiness hours.


In 2015, law enforcement in particular has been plagued with negative perception challenges, offline and online. There has never been a more valuable time to understand the nuances of embracing tone and managing citizen satisfaction on social media. New live-streaming apps also have caused challenges for public safety entities. On the one hand, they allow officers to share real-time updates. On the flip side, these platforms have many implications for the safety of officers and the public during real-time, unfolding events where the apps could inform fugitives of law enforcement’s next move.


As we look to 2016, it’s becoming more acceptable to not only spend ad dollars on social media campaigns, but also to hire staff members specifically for the purpose of managing social media profiles. Public agencies are digging deeper into analytics to ensure best practices, prove value to agency leadership and determine whether to continue on current platforms or redirect efforts to new ones.

Over the next year, a couple of government-related social media associations are slated to launch. This is an exciting step toward encouraging a strong learning network for public-sector social media managers.


An Event for Government Social Media Managers


Are you responsible for maintaining any social media profiles for your agency? You don’t have to learn about best practices on your own anymore. Come to GSMCON2016 and collaborate with a network of local and state government social media managers.

Our company founded the Government Social Media Conference & Expo in 2015, and we’re gearing up to host the second annual event from April 6-8, 2016, in Reno, Nevada. It’s the only major event designed for U.S. city, county and state government (all those federal, international, military, education, etc., are welcome as well).

Speakers from Facebook, Nextdoor, Hootsuite and more will be returning in 2016. GSMCON features general sessions, concurrent breakout sessions and interactive PowerTalk discussions. Attendees collaborate and learn strategy and techniques to maximize social media programs to bring value to citizens!

Sound good? See the GSMCON website and we hope to see you in Reno in 2016.


Government Humor Strategy on Social Media – What Works

Dog in sunglasses

Humor coming from a government agency has the capability to skyrocket engagement or go up in flames causing a PR nightmare. If you run a government social media page, you are well aware of the struggle to obtain followers and boost engagement. Many of us are tempted to experiment with humor, but could there be a strategy for government humor on social media?

We hosted a discussion on this topic on June 18, during our #GSMCHAT bi-weekly Twitter chat. Several local and state agency representatives from all over the United States joined in sharing their ideas and experiences with each other. While some admitted a hesitance toward humor, the majority enjoys joking with their followers.  


City of Reno Proclaims June 30 as “Social Media Day”

As the host city of the first-ever state and local government social media conference this past April, the City of Reno, Nevada is the latest government agency to issue a proclamation naming June 30, 2015, as “Social Media Day”.

Social Media Day is the sixth-annual global celebration of social media. Conceived by Mashable in 2010, the day has become an opportunity for communities to connect and collaborate digitally and offline with citizens.


Five Timesaving Template Ideas for Government Social Media

Time Saving Ideas

Investing a bit of your time in creating social media content templates can be worth it in the long run, as your agency balances valuable staff time with the need for consistent social media posts. A template can simply be a text document with generic language and fill-in-the-blank sections. Here are five template ideas that can help you and your team lighten the load and boost citizen engagement.


Attend the Government Social Media Conference

Registration is now open for the first annual Government Social Media Conference & Expo (GSMCON), taking place in Reno, Nevada from April 29 – May 1, 2015. Unlike all other national social media conferences, GSMCON was created specifically for those whose work involves social media management for government entities rather than the corporate world.


Nextdoor Social Network Now Available for Public Agencies

Nextdoor App

Nextdoor.com announced the launch of “Nextdoor for Public Agencies” today (which is by no coincidence the National PrepareAthon! Day of Action).

The average Joe uses the Nextdoor social network to connect with their neighbors about local issues. It is a closed network only open to the people who live in each neighborhood. But with today’s announcement, public agencies across the United States will be able to tap in to the platform to connect with citizens and address hyperlocal issues and concerns. The application to police and public safety communications alone could make Nextdoor a game-changer.