The City of Northfield contemplates the use of social media; here’s a report that could help

City of Nfld 2010 goals draft The Northfield City Council has published a draft of its 2010 strategic directions and goals. One of the sub-goals:

“1.2.4 Consider including social media as part of communications plans.”

A few days ago I got a tweet from colleague Len Witt and the crew at the Center for Sustainable Journalism about a new report from the Fels Institute of Government at the University of Pennsylvania called:

Making the Most of Social Media - 7 Lessons from Successful Cities

Making the Most of Social Media – 7 Lessons from Successful Cities. (From the March news release):

“The report includes a brief discussion of the growth of Social Media over the past several years, including the challenges associated with adopting them for public use – legal, practical and political. Despite these challenges, the public managers interviewed by Fels were bullish about their early experiments: in an environment of shrinking news rooms and fractured audiences, applications like Facebook and Twitter provide a cheap, efficient way to spread the "Good News" of local government.”


  1. Griff Wigley said:

    The City has apparently removed its Facebook page. I can’t seem to find it. Anyone?

    April 26, 2010
  2. Tracy Davis said:

    This is a great report. In fact, though it’s about governments’ use of social media, there are a lot of points in there that have relevance to other applications, especially community blogs such as ours.

    I also liked the report’s pragmatic conclusion that there aren’t right and wrong ways to use these media, and the “Face your fears” section is particularly helpful.

    Of particular interest was the part about [fear of] public criticism:

    Public managers frequently worry that social media could open their departments up for criticism in a venue where they have very little control. Most managers are familiar with unruly online message boards….The Fels Institute’s research suggests that this kind of criticism is likely where users remain anonymous, such as the comments section of many blogs and video hosting services.

    Sites with a strong association between online and off-line identities, by contrast, remain civil. No public agency interviewed by the Fels Institute reported significant controversy on their Facebook site and several, including the Richmond Police Department, reported that they are overwhelmingly more likely to receive accolades than criticism online.

    April 26, 2010

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