Our Thinking

Using Social Media to Educate Constituents

Luke Kempski

Over the years, I’ve spoken to many leaders in state government about the challenges of educating their constituents. Too often, the knowledge possessed by government experts is not easily accessible by those who could benefit from it.

This can be as simple as a homeowner trying to figure out how to properly dispose of old, unused paint or an entrepreneur trying to properly register a new business. These are tasks we don’t do every day so when we do, we turn to the web and social media. Unfortunately, Google returns links to content that is full of legalese and people who want to sell us something. And, the expert in government who can answer our exact question is nowhere to be found.

If the U.S. military can find secure ways to encourage and support social media so should other government agencies. A video on YouTube, a blog, a Wiki or an answer through a Facebook site can guide us to improve the environment, visit a new tourist attraction, or comply with the law.

Some states like Utah, Delaware and Rhode Island are starting to get the idea. They have Twitter feeds, Facebook sites and blogs to connect their experts to targeted communities with relevant information. The result, improved communications, increased compliance and reduced enforcement. It may even make the public feel better about government.

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