Horsham council looks to social media to build community relationships

OPTIONS: Horsham Rural City Council is exploring social media options to help strengthen its relationship with the community. Picture: FILE PIC

OPTIONS: Horsham Rural City Council is exploring social media options to help strengthen its relationship with the community. Picture: FILE PIC

HORSHAM Rural City Council is exploring social media options to help strengthen its relationship with the community.

Council's media and communications officer Lise Eagan Bales said last month's LGPro social media event in Melbourne emphasised the important relationship between social media and customer service.

"In today's environment, these tools are critical in getting messages out quickly to our community," she said.

"Almost 40 per cent of the population visits Facebook alone, every day.

"Many councils are using social media for advocacy and community engagement projects with successful outcomes."

Council has a general Facebook page along with several program-specific pages, such as Your Horsham Your Say and Horsham Regional Art Gallery.

In the next few months council will consider opening a Twitter account.

It will also investigate whether it would benefit from having a presence on networking site Pinterest or the photo-sharing platform Instagram.

Cr Heather Phillips said social media platforms were crucial for council's ability to engage with topenlhe community.

"We don't always have to agree with the community voice, but we do have to listen to them and take it into account," she said.

"To me it's not telling the community what has happened or what is about to happen - it's about starting two-way conversations.

"If we want people to turn up to meetings, we've got to let them know what's on the agenda and social media gives us that opportunity."

Cr Phillips said social media made it easy for residents to ask questions and receive answers.

"We have to have the ability for that two-way conversation to occur," she said.

Council will look to develop a social media policy to address issues of relevance, resources and managing appropriate content.

Staff will also consult with representatives of the Greater City of Bendigo, which has launched several successful social media initiatives during the past year.

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