Interview with : Luke Stowe, Digital Services Coordinator for the City of Evanston, IL
Updated on: 30 Oct 2015
A short description of how and why you got started in social media.
I've been working in local government for about 15 years since the year 2000 – at both the county and city level. I think the presidential campaign in November 2008 was the turning point for social media in both politics and government. Shortly after that presidential election, I decided to approach my managers at the time to pitch the idea of social media for local government. It would improve our outreach to citizens and they fully embraced the idea which was great.
What do you believe are the benefits of using social media for councils?
I think there are many benefits. Transparency is a huge benefit. I can't speak for the climate in the United Kingdom, but in the United States, there's a lot of scepticism from people of all parts of the political spectrum, whether it's federal, state or local government. Transparency and authenticity is very helpful to our citizens and residents.
The real-time aspect of social media is also very helpful, it helps governments communicate faster and without media filters. Some government websites are still not adapted to the mobile interface. Whereas social media by its nature is very mobile, even more so than e-mail. It's a huge advantage for government officials.
We need to go where people's attention is. Some studies are showing that one third or more of people's online time is spent on social media. It would be foolish for us not to be dedicating our communication efforts on the social platforms.