As you might have noticed about a month ago on June 3, Orange County (finally!) joined Twitter and Facebook in an attempt to enhance their social media presence and public engagement/outreach.
Part of how terrible the County's social media presence boils down to a sincere lack of understanding of social media. For example:
As Jason Baker put it...
Welcome, @OCNCGOV. Good luck with the "posts will be removed if inappropriate" policy - that's not quite how Twitter works.— Jason Baker (@jehb) June 8, 2013
Things aren't any better on Facebook, either. Take a look:
We probably shouldn't be that surprised about this, though. Just take a look at @OCNCGov's first tweet:
Welcome to Orange County Government’s page! It will be used primarily to communicate local news to residents so follow us to stay in tune.— Orange County NC Gov (@OCNCGOV) June 3, 2013
Nowhere in this tweet is any expressed interest in engaging with citizens or embracing two-way communication with Orange County residents -- which is, of course, the entire point of social media.
We've had discussions on OP before about social media and public engagement and the need for government to do more. (Ruby's suggestion for a Public Engagement Advisory Board is an example of these discussions, as is James Barrett's post about the Wake County Schools' Twitter account.)
The point I want to make here is that it's not enough for local governments (or any governments, really) to simply have accounts and post press releases. What value do these tweets and posts add to government? How do these posts advance citizen engagement? How do they improve the lives of citizens and make government better?
Quite simply, they don't. Effective use of technology by government entities requires engagement, conversation, and content that is tailored to each medium, which is the precise opposite of what we've seen from the County in their social media "strategy."
With the retirement of County Manager Frank Clifton, I think Jason is right to say we need a manager who understands and prioritizes communications. It's quite clear the County currently isn't doing that.
Oh, and here are some other examples of what not to do from Orange County social media, just to underscore this post:
1. What is this? I have no idea.
2. Sure would like to sign up for this online. How do I do that?
3. I know how to call 911. What I don't know is if our county 911 services have come into the 21st century yet.
4. If I needed to know this, I could look it up online. Why should I, in scrolling through my newsfeed, care? If it's not immediately relevant, don't post it.