Guest post by Sid Burgess. Cross posted at sidburgess.com
First, to set the mood you should watch this video. It is going to blow your socks off.
As citizens, we have more and more options to reach our elected officials and leverage social media. Social networking sites are not for everyone and some people choose to leave them to their family life. But if you are interested in using your Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, or StumbelUpon account for good in your community, here is your how-to that is sure to fill your pothole.
1) Define your project/issue
Take a picture of your issue or project. Even if this isn’t something that is physically wrong in your community, a picture adds great context to your message.
Upload your picture(s) to your Flickr account. If you took a video (which would be awesome!), add it to your Youtube account and be sure to mention what community you are in, who you are, and define the issue while you narrate the video.
Go to SeeClickFix and and log in with your Facebook Account. In the “Location” type in your community. Zoom in and create your ticket. Then go to the Issue Page and check out all your options! Before you go on a sharing frenzy, let’s add some important people to your network.
2) Friend your leadership
First, find out if your local community has a web site that lists your elected officials. If they are there, grab those names and start searching for them on Twitter and Facebook or whatever social network you want to use. Once you have found them, ‘friend’ them! This is a great way to shortcut all the headaches of voicemail and unhelpful staff. Keep in mind that not all elected officials are hard to reach so don’t feel like you can’t at least try to use the phone before you drop your tweet on them.
Speaking of tweets, GovTwit is a great place to find your elected officials on Twitter.
3) Follow-up and engage your community
So you did it. You reported your issue, found your city councilman, and sent her a Facebook Direct Message. You are feeling quite proud at the moment I bet. You should be! You have just gotten farther than 95% of Americans at getting something done in their community. However, we can still capitalize on all your hard work by “sharing” what you have done. Send out the link to your project that you posted on SeeClickFix to your Twitter followers and ask them to comment or “vote up” your project. On Facebook you can share it right from the issue page. It is really that easy. When the issue is fixed or addressed, always be sure to post follow-up details for all of your friends and be sure to say thank you.
Again, what you have just done is so much more than most people ever take the time to do. The reality is our communities are falling apart largely because we are failing to let our leadership know that we actually do see and care about these things. As a councilman, I was always trying to look at the big picture stuff. It was easy to become oblivious to the small things that could be causing friction in the community. Never fall into believing that it is rude to bring up something that is wrong. These are your streets, your parks . . . it is your community! And more importantly, whatever doesn’t get fixed while we are around will get left for our children to clean up. Speak up and let’s get this stuff done.
Try stepping up your game next time. A YouTube video with commentary is a great way to convey your message, especially if you can get helpers from your neighborhood. Here is a nice example of one.
Best of luck and be sure to report back to all of us as to how things went!
PS: Do you have a story about how you were able to use the Internet or social media to solve an issue in your community? Would love to hear it!
Our experiences make us who we are, and I am no exception. I am a product of years of public service, small business & self-employment, and a family that believes in me. From combat in Iraq, to ‘combat’ on the city council, I have faced, learned from, and overcome challenges and opportunities. I value people over ideas, and ideas over the status quo. Please drop by my blog and share your thoughts and ideas.