The City of San Francisco over the last two years has aggressively embraced social media for marketing of government programs and initiatives, citizen engagement, and two-way communications. An important task for the next mayor is not only to preserve the vibrant ecosystem left by one of the U.S.’s most tech-savvy mayors, but to continue to advance government innovation in one of the world’s most tech-savvy cities.
Let’s take a quick look at some of San Francisco’s crowning social media achievements, with an eye for growth:
More than 50 SF agencies and officials use Twitter for citizen engagement and government marketing, not including political accounts. While none approaches the 1.3 million followers of the former mayor, several of the accounts – including those of citywide officeholders and popular city museums – have several thousand followers each. The robust official Twitter activity makes San Francisco one of the top municipalities in the world for microblogging – it even takes service requests by tweet. The City could take its Twitter use to the next level through improved integration with official City websites and listening campaigns aimed at identifying and responding to public concerns.
Contests and Video
SF’s Public Utilities Commission created a positive stir around its goals of getting more residents to drink tap water and use reusable bottles with its “I Love SF Water” YouTube campaign. Here’s the winning entry:
SF agencies have slowly embraced social media-fueled contests to generate interest in their missions, and can take it up a notch through use of location-based apps and creation of a universal template and aggregation site for official contests, similar to the U.S. GSA’s Challenge.gov.
The former mayor was known for marathon YouTube videos, and one mayoral candidate has proposed YouTube for submitting official public comments. Including on-the-record video and text commenting is status quo technology for the City’s current public meeting webstreaming – it just takes a leader willing to turn it on.
Facebook and 311
The City’s Facebook page is a monster with more than a quarter millions fans and heavy interaction from fans of our beautiful metropolis. In a recent addition, it includes on-site integration with SF 311, the City’s central agency responsible for taking and processing non-emergency service requests. Creating a citywide social media best-practices sharing forum and neighborhood-oriented trainings on multi-media access to City services would leverage this Facebook clout to enhance other social media efforts. The City might also consider allowing direct access to expert staff through Facebook, similar to the efforts of the U.S. Geographical Survey.