Engaging citizens in the digital age
A strong digital communications strategy helps local governments engage with citizens while providing useful information and services. As technology advances, it’s important governments connect with their constituents where they are, and to do this, planning is key.
A recent survey of more than 600 state and local government communication officials conducted by GovDelivery, identified several trends. For example, a little over half of the respondents reported their organization is working to increase citizen engagement through digital communications. Another 43 percent said they are making citizen satisfaction a priority and 38 percent said they are working to increase the public’s use of online services.
The report notes that improving levels of satisfaction and engagement depends on both the content a local government provides and how this information is disseminated. Communications options are key here, the report says. Allowing residents to sign up for and receive information on specific topics that interest them sent via the specific channel they prefer (text, email, social media, newsletters) helps residents remain stay and remain connected.
Another major area of concern for government communicators was the quality of organizational websites. A department’s website is critical to providing residents with the resources they need, and nearly 87 percent of respondents said that optimizing their website was a priority, and 33 percent said their department was planning a complete overhaul.
One easy way to drive web traffic, the report says, is by adding an overlay to the site, which prompts first-time visitors to sign up for email updates. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission increased sign ups for web content increase from 40 people per-day to more than 500 after adding an overlay, an increase of more than 1,000 percent.
But as audiences grow, its important to keep in mind that a website must remain up-to-date and relevant to insure visitors return and remain satisfied. Refreshing content often, and checking its quality is important in maintaining an engaging website, according to the study.
For more survey results, download GovDelivery’s report for free here.