Why Cities Need a Solid Social Media Strategy

This afternoon, I had an appointment at Big Train which happens to be 5 minutes away from where I live however when I got to Bake Pkwy I noticed a line of cars and figured it was an unusual lunch rush. I tweeted about the incident, got a few retweets, and 15 minutes later I noticed it was a complete road block.

In my despair, I did a search on Twitter and noticed that several people had sent out warning tweets about the road closure but the city of Lake Forest had no updates to provide. Instead if you look at their wall, it’s nothing but an automated feed of news links which further added to my frustration. I continued my search and found a separate Lake Forest twitter account (an independent local news source) and would only have been found in a search. While they did provide updates on the unfortunate situation, it would have been nice if they could have also included an alternate route, how far the closure extended, and the approximate timing of the incident and how long the road would be closed. I imagine something like this could have easily been arranged if the city of Lake Forest was also participating, engaging with police officials, and sending out updates instead of causing panic and frustration.

While I did eventually find out what was going on, I should not have to search any further than the city twitter page. What good is your Twitter page if you’re not engaging, providing real time updates, and being a vital resource to your inhabitants or those that might be passing through?

Yes, Lake Forest I’m publicly calling you out. I hope you’ll re-think your strategy.

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  • http://notagrouch.com Oscar Gonzalez

    Nice strategy to call them out. I agree with you that they should be more on top of this. They probably just need to hire you for some help to get things done right. I think the city of Irvine is starting to get it, they are on and doing pretty too.

    • http://about.me/sukhrajbeasla Sukhraj Beasla

      Thanks Oscar! I’ll take a look at what Irvine is doing but yeah, Lake Forest still hasn’t figured it out. Hopefully they’ll get it soon or hire me :)

      • http://oscarstech.com/ Oscar Gonzalez

        They’re not doing *that* great but at least they’re trying. :)

  • Anonymous

    I agree with you whole 100%.  The local news station where I live has started to doing this, but hey rely on the locals to help feed them information, but when I travel in big cities it would be awesome to have a more coherent approach

  • http://www.live-audio.com Craig Galway

    You should flesh this out more.  Most cities have major budget issues going on right now.  Could you make a case that traffic jams and similar events tie up too many public safety resources?  Giving someone the responsibility of keeping people up to date could perhaps be shown to save valuable resources.  It would work best if there were some central source of information that could be used from town to town, so maybe there is a market opportunity here for someone to create a “.gov” social site.  Beyond traffic, it could be used for any emergency situation to let people know what is going on where with integrated maps.

    Of course as far as traffic goes, some gps units do come with integrated traffic updates and rerouting.  I’m always a decade behind the technology curve though.  Has anyone here used them?