City, county, state and federal governments nationwide are increasingly embracing social media to connect with the public. They're using everything from standbys Facebook and Twitter to the increasingly popular Google+, Instagram, Pinterest and Tumblr.
Social media provide government officials a quick, easy way to engage and interact with a wide swath of constituents, according to the International City/County Management Association in Washington, D.C. "The utility is to get actionable information out quickly," says Evelina Moulder, the group's director of survey research.
The U.S. Conference of Mayors says social media allow leaders to communicate more quickly and effectively with constituents than traditional channels allow.
"Many mayors are even making major announcements first through social media outlets such as Twitter before they hold a press conference or send out a press release," said Tom Cochran, the conference's executive director and CEO.
Recent examples include alerts amid threatening wildfires and rainstorms, efforts to have roads repaired, and the promotion of a city:
From the El Paso County sheriff's office near Colorado Springs on June 27, as the Waldo Canyon Fire raged: "MANDATORY EVACUATION: Crystola, both El Paso and Teller County. Take animals with you -- you will NOT be allowed back in."
"On it," Newark, N.J., Mayor Cory Booker tweeted on June 26 in response to a constituent's tweet: "Can someone please fix the potholes on Berkeley between North 7th and 6th Street?!"
In Burlington, Vt., Mayor Miro Weinberger used his personal Twitter account and the official @BTVMayor handle to give updates during two severe thunderstorms, on July 4 and July 17, about flooding, which traffic signals had gone out and how long the power was expected to be off.
Silverman also reports for The Burlington (Vt.) Free Press. Contributing: Joel Banner Baird, The Burlington Free Press.
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