Success tips for social media (from an internationally recognized source)

Wed, 2013-10-16 06:00 -- Jesse Berst

Everywhere you go, you read advice telling cities to use social media (we say it here at Smart Cities Council all the time). But using social media is one thing. Getting citizens to read it is another. The Governing.com post summarized below has some valuable suggestions, gleaned from Brimfield, Ohio's police department, which has gained international recognition. As Police Chief David Oliver says: "You have to do it. You can’t afford to be without it." His advice -- and his tips on how to succeed -- apply to every city department, not just the police. -- Jesse Berst


Shop with a Cop day in BrimfieldFirst thing to know is that the city of Brimfield is a town of just 10,500 people with 88,000 "likes" on its Facebook page. So you don't have to be a major metropolis to get social media right.

As Police Chief Oliver explains it, in social media consistency is important. "Between 6:30 and 7 a.m.," he says, "we have a good morning message with weather and traffic and we poke fun at people with birthdays. People rely on it. If I miss it, you see the messages -- “Where’s the chief today? Can’t go on without the message.” It’s been comical on that end."

And purposeful. Back when he starting thinking about a Facebook page he looked around and saw what others were doing and thought it tended to be sterile.

"I wanted to do something different," he told Govering.com. "I like to laugh by nature."

There are some unexpected results from Brimfield's social media success, too. In the Governing.com interview, Oliver mentions that housing starts are up 30% since Facebook literally put the town on the map. The department also does a lot of community service projects and Oliver posted a message on Facebook about wanting to take at least 80 kids shopping for school clothes. They got donations from 15 states and two countries – including a $2,000 check from someone in Florida. In the photo shown here from the department's Facebook page, members of the squad gather for "Shop with a Cop" day.

Read the interview with the chief >>

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Jesse Berst is the founding Chairman of the Smart Cities Council. Click to subscribe to SmartCitiesNow, the weekly newsletter highlighting smart city trends, technologies and techniques.