Building a Reputation Through Social Media

The old saying is “No news is good news”.  On the other hand, P.T. Barnum was quite successful following the business model that “there’s no such thing as bad publicity.”  But doesn’t everyone long for acceptance and appreciation?

The stark reality in the professional world is that long-term, sustainable success can only be achieved in accompaniment with a positive reputation. This holds especially true for local government agencies (LGA’s) since there is no chance for a short-lived business endeavor.  Government is designed to serve its constituents for the long haul.

Building a positive reputation is really the only viable option for thriving as an organization and allowing your citizens to see that they live in an amazing community.  Nobody wants to live in a town that operates in silent shadows.  Even worse is the town which is constantly mired in negative news stories.  Take control of the spotlight and shine it brightly where it belongs.

So, how can your agency build a positive reputation to better your ability to serve the public? There’s no more effective and efficient way than through the use of social media.

 Publicize Meaningful Events

First and foremost, use social media to publicize meaningful events in your community.  Sometimes you will need to dive deeper than what is within your agency’s core mission and get into stories about individuals and groups that go above and beyond the call of duty.

On Twitter, spotlight a police officer who spearheaded a toy drive for a community ravaged by poverty.  Take to Facebook to recognize a group of firefighters who just participated in a local school’s Touch-a-Truck event. Post an Instagram message showcasing the dedication and hard work of your Public Works Department in turning your July 4th fireworks and Christmas tree lighting celebrations into a success.  Use social media to remind your taxpayers that they are in good hands.

Don’t stop there though.  Elected and appointed officials also deserve recognition of their own. Recognize a council member’s volunteer work in the local food pantry.  Post pictures of all of the Environmental Committee members devoting time to their own specific causes on Earth Day.  Have elected officials join the effort by posting reminder messages of upcoming galas, fundraisers, marches and runs they will be attending. This will provide a well-rounded view of the efforts being made to better your community and thus improve the public perception of your organization.

Advertise New Services, Agreements and Purchases

Don’t be shy to publicly announce new services, agreements, vehicles and facilities on all social media platforms.  Let your constituents know how their tax dollars are being put to good use. Let them know when you receive grants or low interest loans to fund projects. They will respect and appreciate your endeavors so long as they know their tax dollars are being used for meaningful projects.

Advertise your new shared service agreements and your regional cooperative purchasing group on all of your social media accounts. Taxpayers will be glad to hear that you are receiving financial considerations from your neighboring communities in return for services provided with your own underutilized equipment and employees. They will be thankful that you’ve entered a purchasing co-op for the supply of your gas and electric. These seem like minor dealings to LGA administrators, but would be greatly appreciated by the public.  They want to know that somebody is responsibly overseeing the town’s purse and there is no better way than using social media efforts.

Share pictures on Instagram and Facebook from the ribbon cutting ceremony for your new park, playground or library.  Retweet your Fire Departments recent photo of the new fire engine.  This free publicity will build public awareness, increase usage of your facilities and result in positive sentiment in your community.  This will ultimately translate into a definitively positive reputation surrounding your organization.

Show-Off New Hires

Important positions and strategically hired individuals should also be publicized on your social media accounts with the intention of improving your reputation.  Police chief, fire chief, directors and deputy directors are all positions of interest to the public.  They want to know the names and faces of these individuals.

Post pictures of the new Police Chief being sworn into his new position on your agency’s website.  Tweet a photo of the new Fire Chief and point out that he is a lifelong resident in your town (or another similar type of detail). Strategic hires, such as a retired state congresswoman which has been hired for grant writing, should also be promoted on social media. Use Facebook, Twitter and your agency’s website to promote all of these things to further instill confidence about your agency.

 Communicate Important Messages

Most importantly, use all of your social media platforms to make essential communications during emergencies.  Primarily, this allows you to limit damages, keep your resources organized and prevent injuries or even death.  It’s always good publicity when you weather a dangerous event with little downside.

 A secondary benefit is that your organization will avoid the long lasting repercussions of an uneducated public.  A prepared, knowledgeable and alert public limits everybody’s liabilities whereas a community in the dark is left in danger and with a sour taste in its mouth for months after the emergency. Make sure you are the former rather than the latter and keep the positive reputation you’ve built up through your social media accounts.

Get the Credit You Deserve

Your local government agency serves your community with a selfless fervor that deserves credit.  This is accomplished with the corroboration of dedicated employees, volunteers, citizens and local business owners.  It’s all done in order to serve your residents in the manner they deserve. Maximize your social media accounts in order to share your pride in your community throughout the public you serve. You deserve it and they deserve it too!