TownWeb has introduced a new Facebook Integration functionality for government websites

TownWeb has introduced a new Facebook Integration functionality.

Every update published on municipality’s website can automatically be posted on Facebook as well. Our client, Village of Reedsville has seen a 1000% increase in their website visits since they started using this option.

In order to start posting on Facebook yourself, click here to request a Facebook Integration app.


Municipalities have an unprecedented opportunity to reach and engage local residents  over Facebook

You may be wondering if it is necessary for your municipality to spend time on “another thing to update” and if the website is not enough to be present on the Internet. As the use of social media technologies becomes more ingrained in the day-to-day functions of public organizations, we can’t ignore a rising presence of local governments on social media like Facebook.

More and more officials of local government are starting to utilize the opportunity that Social Media platforms like Facebook offer. Presence on Facebook allows one to get residents engaged. For clerks, adding Facebook to their communication channel can actually mean saving time by getting fewer phone calls requesting information.

It doesn’t have to be a burden, it “costs” just a few extra clicks a week to be on Facebook.

In this article, we’ll describe:

-How latest trends in technology are changing the way people communicate with organizations and how to keep up without getting overwhelmed

-How being on Facebook can benefit local governments with examples

-How clerks can start posting on Facebook with just a few clicks a week

1. What are social media and does everyone have to be on Facebook these days?

The speed of changes in technology is accelerating

New technology trends, especially Social Media, are changing the way organizations present themselves and how they communicate with their audience. As internet standards change more and more rapidly, a 10-year-old website might not be enough anymore to “exist” on the Internet.

Internet users, especially millennials, are used to different standards. Most of them browse the web and search for information on mobile phones and tablets (77% of Americans using smartphones in 2016 http://www.pewinternet.org/fact-sheet/mobile/). They’re used to easy access to information, and to communicating with organizations via Social Media channels.

What is Social Media?

The most popular Social Media platforms used by local governments are Facebook and Twitter. Facebook is a social networking site that makes it easy for users to connect and share photos, news, articles, and videos with their friends and family online.

The consequence for local government is that no longer is the concept of a “community” something that is defined by location. Facebook allows online communities to form and grow naturally on the Internet. People get together joined by a common interest, value, or cause.

Social Media grow in popularity

The percentage of Internet activity on Social Media is growing every year. According to statistics from the Nielsen Group, Internet users within the United States spend more time on Facebook than any other website. What it means is that it is harder to get people to come to your website but it’s easier to reach them where they are—on Facebook.

2. How can local governments benefit from being present on Facebook?

What it means for organizations is that they can be more present in people’s lives by being on platforms like Facebook. Not only can organizations get noticed, but they can also get people engaged and informed.

Source: https://www.slideshare.net/HeatherWhaling/social-media-for-municipalities

A study by eMarketer shows that organizations present in Social Media can build a positive image (74% more positive impression of the company/brand present on Social Media than those that are not present on Social Media).

Moreover, organizations are able to build a better connection with their audience (72% stronger connection to a company/brand present on Social Media than those that are not present on Social Media).

Local governments on Social Media

A survey data was collected (link: http://www.instituteforpr.org/the-role-of-social-media-in-local-government-crisis-communications/) from more than 300 local government officials from municipalities across the United States. The study shows that more than 70% of local government officials (N=205) engage social media during a crisis.

Facebook is more commonly used by municipalities a channel for regular communication and updates about community activities.

CEO of Facebook – Mark Zuckerberg himself has recognized the need for engaging Towns with their residents, so they launched a new app that allows that.

Zuckerberg addresses Facebook role:

Our goal is to strengthen existing communities by helping us come together online as well as offline, as well as enabling us to form completely new communities, transcending physical location. When we do this, beyond connecting online, we reinforce our physical communities by bringing us together in person to support each other.”

3. Examples of how local governments utilize Facebook

Social Media changes the dynamics of the relationship between government entities and citizens by making processes more transparent and accessible.

Here are some examples how cities or municipalities can benefit from being present on Social Media:

Get instant feedback from the citizens on problems in your area

Facebook can serve as a direct and instant line of communication with and to your citizens.

Citizens will be more likely to report via Facebook than via email. It also helps municipalities get a feel for the current mood in their towns and how to better approach issues.

Source: http://www.fcm.ca/Documents/presentations/2011/AGM2011/Social_Media_for_a_Municipality_EN.pdf

Be present and build the relationship with citizens

The social element of Facebook encourages civic engagement via community psychology.

Local government’s activity shows up on Facebook users’ News Feed. Users, who follow the municipality on Facebook, see its activity and updates regularly among their friends and family news.

By being updated on a regular basis, users a feeling of being engaged in municipality’s matters.

As mentioned before, Internet users get more positive impressions and a stronger connection to an organization/brand that’s present on Facebook.

Increase reach

Social media like Facebook is a way to reach younger audiences who are social media savvy – maybe it’s a good way to get some of them engaged in the upcoming elections.

“Government engagement is an alien prospect for this [younger] generation. They don’t want to go to a community meeting… they want to ‘plug in’” Stephen Hardy, chief community builder for MindMixer. (source: http://americancityandcounty.com/citizen-engagement/municipalities-engaging-millennials-through-social-media)

Inexpensive channel for Public Relations

The local government does its best to serve its community. How would it affect public perception of the government entities if citizens get informed about positive activities going on in the municipality?

Unfortunately, most of the residents (especially the young ones) don’t visit the municipality’s website and won’t see those wins. They can be almost effortlessly reached where they already are – on Facebook.

Example:

City of Chattanooga showing off their public works project. Source: http://www.viewpointcloud.com/blog/local-government-resources/local-government-social-media/]

Raise sense of civic responsibility

By being available and responding to citizens’ queries consistently, local government entities are encouraging responsible citizenry and regaining trust in the long run.

4. How can clerks benefit from Facebook?

Make your town hall more accessible and reduce the number of phone calls

You can provide updates about election dates and significant events, along with all of the ordinances, agendas and other information that makes life easier for your residents.

It can save you from people contacting you with common queries.

Raise civic awareness

By posting on Facebook, you can reach people who wouldn’t come to the website.

The Village of Reedsville is using our Facebook integration (details below) – everything they post on their website can be added on Facebook too. Their website update has seen a 1000% increase in visits since it was posted on Facebook.

(residents connected to Village of Reedsville see village’s updates on Facebook and can click to see full information on their website)

5. How to effortlessly post on Facebook?

TownWeb recognizes the importance of utilizing Social Media like Facebook. That’s why we have created the Facebook Integration to save clerks time and make posting on this channel effortless.

For the clerk, it means just a few extra clicks to set up the Facebook Integration.

The person responsible for updating the website only need to choose which categories should be published to Facebook. After that, every update from that category will automatically appear as a Facebook post.

What is required to use Facebook Integration?

-The municipality needs to have a Facebook page (you can request a Branded Facebook page for your municipality here)

-The website needs to be in a newer version (WordPress V5)

This is (probably) the only plugin which does this in the local government industry. When the new post is published, users can get notified on Facebook, SMS, and Email automatically.

How to start with Facebook Integration?

Very easy. If you’re a TownWeb client, just contact us with the request and give us an admin right to your Facebook page and you can start reaching more residents!

If you would like to find out about pricing of our “future proof” websites that make clerks’ lives easier, please contact us for a quote.