Earlier this semester, I had the opportunity to interview the Director of Corporate Communications for the City of Fort Saskatchewan (my hometown!!), Wendy Kinsella, about the work she does communicating with the citizens of Fort Saskatchewan efficiently and effectively. She mentioned to me that they are constantly exploring new outlets for connecting with the community, including social media channels like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and LinkedIn. She explained that each of these platforms satisfied different members of the population in different instances. Twitter, she noticed, was beginning to be used less and less within the community, so they have pulled back Twitter communications to primarily council meeting updates. The format of the platform allows for continuous, brief updates on situations that matter to people in this city, and makes it so that people can be involved with city politics wherever they are during the time of the meetings. Wendy said that she has noticed that Facebook is more popular right now, which the city uses to highlight community events and notices, and is set up like a business page, with links to the official website, photos, and the city YouTube channel.
Like Wendy explained, the City’s Twitter page is relatively kept to just council meeting updates, although they do retweet from prominent accounts, like the mayor, or tweet about special causes, like #BellLetsTalk and a community hockey event. These tweets include photos, which we learned in class tend to have a positive impact on likes and retweets. The city follows 604 other users, and is followed by 3,498, which is actually more than I expected. The Fort Saskatchewan Record, our city newspaper, also monitors tweets from users with the hashtag #fortsask and features three to five of these tweets in the weekly paper, which I think is a great way to connect audiences of both media. It is also interesting to note that the Fort has different twitter accounts for recreation, special events, and planning and development, all of which I had no clue existed, and based on their activity, I would suggest might be more effective if at least retweeted or mentioned on the official Fort Saskatchewan Twitter page.
It is difficult to compare Fort Saskatchewan’s social media presence to that of a bigger municipality, like Edmonton, because like Wendy explained to me, our people are very particular about what we want from our city’s media accounts, and we have far less people to appeal to. With 167 thousand followers, of course we would expect Edmonton’s twitter presence to appeal to a more broad audience, with more frequent tweets and communication directly to Edmontonians. Until Fort Saskatchewan’s population either grows or becomes more fluent with the Twittersphere, I doubt we will be seeing the usage increase any time soon. What are your thoughts on small-city Twitter use? Let me low below!