10 Ways Cities can Utilize Social Media

Public sectors aren’t always known for being cutting edge with technology or wielding large budgets for communications. With such an already connected world we live in, it seems like it would be simple to engage residents to volunteer on the planning board or help spruce up the public gardens. Social media tools are making tapping into those engaged citizens easier. Here are 10 ways for a city to utilize social media without eating up all your time.

1. Public Service Announcements

PSAs are a great tool to inform the public in a bite-sized way. Thirty seconds may be all you will need to let people know about ways to save on their energy bill, or when mosquito spraying will happen in the neighborhood. Partner up with your local community media center to unroll these PSAs monthly to keep ahead of city communications.

2. Profiles on City Employees

Your city employees work hard. They are proud of where they are working and can provide deep insight into specific niches of the city. Have a quick conversation with the head of DPW to see how they are preparing for the winter ahead, or do a spot with a local police officer to show the community they are people too.

3. Recycle and Trash Updates

Recycling and trash need constant education and reeducation. Plastic bags end up in recycles and gum up machinery. Execute a series of short videos to disburse on Facebook and YouTube to make it easy for citizens to learn how to separate their trash and recycles. Make it evergreen so you can use it every year when you notice spikes in trash mess-ups.

4. Crime Prevention

Police departments issue releases if crime sprees occur in the area. Help keep citizens informed by sharing their press releases on your city’s social page. Facebook and Twitter are highly effective for shares like this. Make sure there are some pictures in the announcement, they are viewed more often.

5. Job and Volunteer Opportunities

Recruit for jobs and volunteers through a base that is already a stakeholder in your community. The benefits of employing a resident in your community only enhance the cities knowledge of what is important to the citizens (and it’s not a bad commute).

6. Weather updates and closings

Locations that are snowy may experience more city-wide closings than others. If admin offices are closed, its vital to let people know so they can stay safe and off the roads. Social media is a great tool for this because it is so quickly shared and re-shared.

7. Road Closures

Road closures can be a headache for the people who live near them or commute through them. Inform them about the closures early and often. Anything around traffic can quickly raise tension. Keep people in the loop as a project progresses to minimize backlash.

8. Parks and Rec class promotions

Your city has great programs for kids, but maybe not the communications budget to let people know about them. Share the flyers on social media, tagging local mommy and me groups in the area. Instagram is a great tool to target a specific geographical location. Consider doing a video PSA with your local community media center to inform the target audience about the programs.

9. Board and commission recruitments

Cities run on boards and commissions. Many of these unsung heroes sit on the cable commission, the water, and sewer commission, or the planning board. Empty seats can slow progress and burden the other commission members with work. Fill those empty seats by reaching out to the community.

10. Municipal Meetings

Most municipal meetings are taped for public record by your local community media center. Share those videos to increase government transparency and hopefully spark conversation!


Social media is a constantly changing environment. Utilize these free tools to bolster your communications team. If your communications team consists of the City Clerk, consider reaching out to your local media center for support to send your messages further.

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