Newton County to use social media for citizen engagement

COVINGTON — Newton County residents can expect to see an increased social media effort from the county government in the upcoming weeks.

Commissioners agreed to hire GovComms to coordinate a social media strategy to inform residents of town hall and board meetings, open spots to serve on committees, community tips as well as weather-related incidents.

Jeremy Brand of GovComms told commissioners Tuesday that a team will put together a plan for local government officials to engage more residents in online interaction.

“We often hear a lot of complaints saying people weren’t informed or received bad information. A lot of times half the battle is talking to the residents and giving them the info,” Brand said. “That’s what we want to help Newton with.”

Commissioners decided to hire GovComms on a contract basis for four months at the price of $1,750 per month.

Social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other outlets will be used to spread information across the county.

Chairman Keith Ellis said he attended a civic engagement class during the Association County Commissioners of Georgia (ACCG) conference in April and learned that many communities are adopting a similar program.

“We want people to help us with solutions and bring suggestions we can really implement. I think this is worth the price and will be able to engage more citizens,” Ellis said.

Brand said the first steps are gaining followers through a Facebook page and posting items that will spark conversations. Once the social media websites are up, Brand said there will be a quarterly report of numbers given to the board in order to see how effective the sites are.