Using Social Media to Connect with Citizens

October 29, 2013

By Andy Huckaba

Andy Huckaba will serve as a presenter for the interactive seminar, “Energizing Communities with Social Media,” at the Congress of Cities on Wednesday, November 13, 2013 in Seattle, Wash.

The explosion of social media in the last several years has demanded attention from local governments and forced many city leaders to reevaluate how and where they choose to communicate with their constituents.  Facebook has over 1.3 billion users, Twitter has around 800 million and counting and the number of YouTube videos uploaded and viewed each day is staggering. Social media is not a passing fad. 

Local leaders are public servants, and the public is on social media!  You can choose to side step or ignore this and risk becoming irrelevant, or you can choose to be part of the conversation that is already happening on social media.  If and when you do, you’ll find many of the public's insights to be informative and sometimes even enlightening, and as a result you'll be likely to discover more timely ways to serve the public and to improve the quality of life for your citizens.

Many citizens are using social media to discuss what they like and don’t like about their communities. They are becoming more active in their role of the eyes and ears of the community, and they do this through conversations, videos and pictures, all delivered through social media. 

Take a minute to search your city's name on Twitter and you’ll likely find a number of mentions, some relevant, others not.  As you filter through these you'll have an opportunity to discover a goldmine of different perspectives that can benefit you in your role as a public servant.  Choose to enter into the discussion and become more connected and more real to the people you serve.  As you participate and add value to the discussion, your credibility increases, as does your ultimate ability to positively affect the quality of life in your community.

Social media can be a vehicle for robust and healthy citizen involvement and engagement.  What are you waiting for?  Get on board, connect and be part of the conversation! Need a place to start ot interested in engaging more with other local officials on this topic? Then join us at the Congress of Cities  on Wednesday, November 13, 2013.

Andy Huckaba is a Councilmember for the City of Lenexa, Kansas. He is also President of the management consulting firm Huckaba & Associates. Andy works as a leadership coach, facilitator, instructor, speaker, social media expert and strategic consultant for companies and organizations in telecommunications, architecture, finance, banking, manufacturing, publishing, Internet development, advertising, healthcare and government.