Earlier this year, the City of Charlotte’s Communications & Marketing (CC&M) department developed a creative social media campaign to engage the city’s digital following and better understand the topics that are important to Charlotte residents.
As the spotlight on community engagement continues to increase, there is often a simple factor that can be easily overlooked…asking the community what they want to know and how they want to be engaged.
Charlotte is proudly known as the Queen City so it was fitting that the campaign be called The Queen’s 2017 with #TakeTheReign serving as the call-to-action. The CC&M team recognized that 2017 was an important year for the Queen City and that the community needed to have a hand in telling her story.
With an active presence of over 140,000 Twitter followers and nearly 9,800 followers on Facebook, the city knew it had an audience that could be tapped into in a different way. While the main goal was to encourage these followers to stay connected to local government and their communities, the feedback received would also help shape how the city’s story is shared.
The Queen’s 2017 campaign needed to be vibrant and visual. It also had to have a little bit of intrigue portrayed in the imagery but paired with content about the city that would make people feel connected.
“We wanted the visuals of the campaign to look different from anything we’ve done before,” says CC&M Social Media Manager Ken Brown. “It allowed us to push our creativity and to see whether or not the community had the pallet for this type of content coming from their local government.”
This campaign was shared not only on the city’s social media channels, but also placed on large billboards in the popular Epicentre of Uptown Charlotte. All of these channels pointed residents to a webpage where they could complete a brief survey and provide their feedback on information related to the City of Charlotte’s five focus areas: Community Safety, Economic Development, Environment, Housing & Neighborhood Development and Transportation & Planning.
So, was this a success? Yes. But it wasn’t just about the numbers. It was the intangibles.
The city created something unique that had not been done before on its social media channels. The campaign also allowed local government to foster a relationship with a different demographic of residents who play a role in shaping the city’s story and approach to engagement. The insight gained through the feedback highlighted the community’s want to discuss and learn about things impacting Charlotte such as community safety and economic development, the highest ranked focus areas by participants.
The city also learned that when asked what topics outside of the focus areas people wanted to know more about, governance and accountability along with budget received the most entries. While this is not surprising, it does serve as a reminder that the community wants transparency and feels it is important to understand how local government works.
Utilizing the data from this survey is an important piece to ensuring that the community remains engaged and is confident that their voices are being heard. It will also allow the city to shape effective messaging about city services and priorities.
Following the survey, Ken shared the findings with city leadership, the CC&M team and colleagues around the organization.
“Our goal was to be deliberate about how we used the data we received from the survey,” said Brown. “We wanted to empower ourselves and other city departments to use feedback from the community to help tell the stories our residents wanted to hear from the City of Charlotte.”
Having a shared story with the community is a great way to advance efforts around public participation. It builds a sense of joint ownership and allows the community to become a contributor in a new way. Creating this opportunity and leveraging social media in this capacity has shown the Charlotte community that engagement with local government is evolving and that they are encouraged to be part of the journey. Click here to find out how to stay connected with the City of Charlotte on social media.”
We’d like to know, how are you using social to engage new audiences?