There are few things more frustrating than being asked your opinion and then having what you say completely ignored. Unfortunately, that’s been happening in many municipal governments. Managers and elected officials are trying to use technology to listen to their constituents, but they often get tripped up when it comes to evaluating that input and applying it to programs and services.
Sam Taylor, a contributor to Governing magazine, argues that the Millennial generation is breaking down this information dam.
Millennial executive leaders are already pushing on these fronts, seeking innovative public-engagement solutions using technology, such as the opportunities provided by Code for America. It’s then about working to follow up with constituencies to ensure that they know how their input has been utilized.
That follow-up is critical to counteract the perception in some communities that public servants aren’t listening to the input that citizens do provide—one reason that it can be hard to engender the level of public participation that makes for a healthy, productive civil dialogue.
Speaking of using technology to connect with constituents, check out what Issaquah, Washington is doing on Instagram. Warren Kagarise, the city’s communications coordinator, says Instagram has enabled city leaders to reach residents who didn’t interact with Issaquah on other social media platforms.
[O]ur audience on Instagram is younger than on our other social media platforms. We frequently interact with community members we may not otherwise reach.…
Instagram quickly fostered a surprising amount of dialogue between City Hall and our followers, and among Instagram users brought together by our account.…
To foster a sense of community, every image and video we post is tagged #issaquah—a strategy that often results in new follows and connections. In addition, we do a daily check for other images tagged #issaquah to find posts people are sharing in and about the community, and then like or comment on many of them.
Kagarise lays out the city’s Instagram strategy and its results in this article for ELGL, a website for local government leaders interested in connecting, communicating and educating.