Category: Local Government
I came across an article today that I thought brought up an obvious (but much needed) point. The article says that CIO of Michigan gave a presentation and “[stated] that Online tools and social media are now the norm.”
This is an important point that government officials who are resistant to using social media (such as Facebook, Twitter, blogs, etc) need to understand: this isn’t something unusual. It’s what citizens and businesses use on a regular basis.
It’s also valid to point out that, as a government, you won’t be one of the first to use them… so you can learn from others’ successes (and mistakes).
Are Facebook and Twitter new concepts? Sort of… but communication and relationship building was happening way before these platforms came along. They’re just new places to communicate and build relationships. And, they happen to be what many citizens and businesses are using to connect with each other.
And if your citizens (and businesses) are using social media to connect and share information… why shouldn’t you at least consider it?
Yes, you’ll need to first understand the legal side of things and have a plan going into it. But, you won’t be the first to have done so.
What do you think? Does your local government use social media to effectively communicate? Let us know in the comment section below…
On Friday, the U.S. Election Assistance Commission held a roundtable discussion throughout the day on “Voting Goes Viral. Using New Media to Manage an Election and Communicate with Voters“. The archived video of the webcast is available here.
Their premise going into the day?
There are a multitude of social media sources for information about elections and voting. In this rapidly moving, multi-source environment it is more important than ever that there are official resources about voting that the public can rely upon. (source [PDF])
Here’s some interesting statements that are made in the Agenda and Meeting Information [PDF]
- The voting public increasingly relies on information that is generated and exchanged amongst themselves, about elections, including the basics of how, where and when to vote. Candidates, parties and voting activists have their own strategic uses of social media. Social media outlets are the platforms in which information about elections is being shared and repeated.
- Journalists and election officials share a common goal of informing the public about election procedures and election outcomes, and both groups are using social media to inform the public.
- An important point to make about social media is that it is not a technology; it is a culture. And, yes, it can be scary and unfamiliar to some of us. However, we have to remember our goal – serving voters. They are on Twitter. They use Facebook. And we have a responsibility to go where they are and make sure they have reliable, credible information about exercising their right to vote. Remember, using social media is not about getting a return on your investment; it’s about having conversations with the people you work for. It’s about collaboration, interaction and it is the way business is being done.
- In an era of dynamic changes in voting technologies, increased voter expectations and reduced budgets, journalists and election officials need to find common ground and explore ways to improve the efficiency and effectives of communicating critical election information to the public. A natural tension between these two groups has been speed versus accuracy regarding unofficial election results.
- The social media environment is fast-paced, unforgiving and can be cruel. If you enter it, you will make mistakes, big and small. It’s important to develop a strategy, but also be confident enough to experiment. At the end of the day, election officials should always remember that these efforts are being undertaken on behalf of the public. You want to make sure they have accurate information about how to successfully cast a ballot. Get ahead of rumors and take advantage of this built in early warning system. Get unfiltered feedback, which all true leaders want. It may get weird out there, and it is normal to be scared, confused and excited. But you are helping more people and you are accomplishing your mission.
The archived video of the webcast is viewable here.
Here are some Tweeted insights from the @EACgov Twitter account from throughout the day …
More Information About the Event
Their Agenda included the following sessions:
- Social Media: What Is It?
- Social Media: Who Uses It?
- Journalism and Social Media
- Strategies & Stories from Election Officials
- Chuck Todd — NBC News political director
- Lee Rainie — Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life project director
- Chris Chambless—Clay County, Florida, supervisor of elections
- Alysoun McLaughlin — District of Columbia Board of Elections and Ethics public affairs manager
- Brian Newby — Johnson County, Kansas, election commissioner
- Dana Chisnell — the Usability in Civic Life Project
Also, see techPresident’s post about the event.
Back in April, this blog asked the question: “How Can Social Media Help Governments Serve the Booming Hispanic Population?” I gave a few ideas then (see the bottom of that post).
Well just last Thursday (May 26th), the U.S. Census Bureau “released a 2010 Census brief on the nation’s Hispanic population”. It’s got some newly compiled data in it. Here are some of the highlights:
- “Between 2000 and 2010, the Hispanic population grew by 43 percent, or four times the nation’s 9.7% growth rate“
- The Hispanic population growth of 15.2 million people “accounted for more than half of the total U.S. population increase (of 27.3 million)”
(For some thoughts on “How can local governments better engage the Hispanic population?”, scroll down to the end of this post.)
Where was the population growth?
“The Hispanic population grew in every region of the United States between 2000 and 2010, and most significantly in the South and Midwest.”
- “The South saw a 57% increase in its Hispanic population” (4 times the 14% total population growth in the South.
- In the Midwest, Hispanic population grew by 49%” (more than 12 times the 4% growth of the total pop. in the Midwest).
(click here for larger image)
Hispanic growth by State
“The Hispanic population experienced growth between 2000 and 2010 in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.” (emphasis added)
- “In 2010, 37.6 million, or 75%, of Hispanics lived in the 8 states with Hispanic populations of 1 million or more: California, Texas, Florida, New York, Illinois, Arizona, New Jersey and Colorado.”
- However, “Hispanics were 16% or more of the state population (matching or exceeding the national level) in eight other states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Nevada, New Jersey, New York and Texas.”
Hispanic growth by County
- “The Hispanic population increased to more than twice its size since 2000 in at least one of every four counties.”
- “Of the 3,143 counties in the United States, Hispanics at least doubled in population size in 912 of them.”
- “Hispanics were the majority of the population in 82 out of the nation’s 3,143 counties.”
Not where you might expect: “Among the 469 counties with at least 10,000 or more Hispanics in 2010, the top five fastest growing counties were Luzerne, Pa. (479 percent change); Henry, Ga. (339 percent change); Kendall, Ill. (338 percent change); Douglas, Ga. (321 percent change); and Shelby, Ala. (297 percent change).”
Here’s an interactive map of the percent of Hispanics per county for 2010 (*minus Alaska & Broomfield County, CO). Below is a static map of (what should be) the same thing.
(click here for larger image)
How can local governments better engage the Hispanic population?
So what’s the point? Well… many local governments are going to have to serve an ever-increasing population of people who don’t necessarily communicate the best in English. And although this Census data doesn’t discuss language specifically, at very-least, governments are going to have to adapt to helping people with a different culture than what they might be used to.
How can governments better engage these citizens? After all, they too live in the community, run businesses, and pay taxes.
- Learn their culture.
- Find out how they would like to interact with their government. Treat them like you would want to be treated. Some Hispanics would have a much better experience with government if things were in Spanish. And isn’t that key to strong customer service in government: Helping people to have a pleasant experience? In fact, you might even consider hiring customer service personnel who are multi-lingual.
- Use simple technologies to communicate with them (such as Twitter and Facebook). You might be surprised at how many Hispanics use the Internet and social media. Worried about a “digital divide”? According to a post from the Davenport Institute, they draw the conclusion that Gov 2.0 may actually help engage Hispanics.
- If you video your local government public meetings and put them online, consider making them available in subtitles. After all, this process could end up saving clerks time. Have an opinion on this? Let us know!
- For more ideas, see the bottom of this post on the topic of “How Can Social Media Help Governments Serve the Booming Hispanic Population?“
The U.S. Census Bureau recently announced the “Center of Population” for the 2010 Census.
What is the “Center of Population”? According to the Census Bureau,
The mean center of population is determined as the place where an imaginary, flat, weightless and rigid map of the United States would balance perfectly if all residents were of identical weight.
So, onto what you’re really wanting to see. Drum-roll please…
The 2010 Center of Population for the U.S. is in Texas County, Missouri (2.9 miles from Plato, MO).
Some more information about the history of the Center of Population for the U.S.:
Historically, the center of population has followed a trail that reflects the sweep of the nation’s brush stroke across America’s population canvas. The sweep reflects the settling of the frontier, waves of immigration and the migration west and south. Since 1790, the location has moved in a westerly, then a more southerly pattern. In 2000, the new center of population in Edgar Springs, Mo., was more than 1,000 miles from the first center in 1790, which was near Chestertown, Md.
It’s around that time of year when multiple local elections and primaries are happening. After coming across some posts on a local blog that talks about using social media (posts from that below), I thought it might be beneficial for those in the audience who are elected officials, to have a collection of resources/references to go to when trying to figure out how social media and campaigning go together.
If you have resources to add to the list, feel free to leave them in the comments below!
- “Social media and politics in 2010 campaign” [The Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project]
- “The Internet and Campaign 2010” [The Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project]
- “5 Tips for the Well Equipped Social Media Politician” [Inkling Media]
- “Eight lessons for social media and politics from Politico, Facebook and media” [gov20.govfresh]
- “Politics In The Social Media Age: How Tweet It Is” [NPR]
From Their Standpoint: What Citizens Want
- “An Open Letter to Politicians on Campaigning and Social Media” [Inkling Media]
- “Social Media’s Impact on the Midterm Elections [INFOGRAPHICS]” [Mashable]
- “Social media, local government and elections…” [gov20.govfresh]
- “When Campaigns Manipulate Social Media” [The Atlantic]
- Find out what elected officials are using what social media.
This list is incomplete! Please let us know of other resources that we should add… thanks!