There has been a lot of press lately about how government agencies such as law enforcement are using social media to connect with their community. There was a great piece over at the tech website ZDNet.com about how agencies are using social media during natural disasters.
There are numerous issues yet to be addressed (as identified in Disaster Relief Report) but one thing that has become crystal clear is that the use of social media is a critical part of improving citizen engagement before, during, and after a crisis. For example, government agencies (at all levels) have started to recognize the importance of communicating to the public through social media; many states now have Twitter and/or Facebook profiles in addition to the thousands of sites set up by local government.
I've been trying to ramp up my agency's use of social media in order to better connect with our community and get our message out. This new paradigm of social media in government has even spawned conferences to help agencies learn how to use them effectively.
One of the conferences, the Social Media the Internet and Law Enforcement (SMILE) Conference is coming up here in Texas later this month. I am already registered and looking forward to attending and learning more about this topic.
If done right, social media can be a very cost effective way to connect with your community and to foster a two way dialog with the citizens you serve. While social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter are free, it does take a little effort to learn the tools and best practices in order to ensure your social media program is a positive asset to your agency.
I plan on live blogging much of the conference here and on my Twitter feed. If you can't make the conference, follow me to watch the coverage. If you are going to be in Dallas for the SMILE Conference, let me know so we can meet up.
What are you doing to promote your agency's message on social media? If your agency isn't on social media, why not?