Your city’s online presence is a portal into what makes your community great. It offers a snapshot for potential residents and ways for your existing community to engage with each other.
Devoting resources to your community’s online presence should rank as high as any other city initiative. For many cities, the challenge lies not in knowing that these resources need to be created or updated, but in the execution of their online digital marketing strategy.
Rather than go it alone, the best option might be to partner with an agency that has helped other cities across the country take their online presence from Razr to iPhone 12. The Your Business Marketer team knows the challenges that municipalities face and is ready to lend a helping hand.
Here are our expert tips for giving your city’s website an upgrade.
Let’s Talk About Your Website
When was the last time that you updated your city’s website? If the answer is more than a month ago, you could be in for a rude awakening. Beyond ranking high in the Google search engine results pages, your website is often the first thing that people encounter, and it can say a lot about your community.
Search Engine Optimization
Search engine optimization, or SEO, might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of your online presence, but it plays a critical role in how easily people can find information about your city. Cities looking to grow or attract tourists will be hard pressed to find a tool that helps them more than ranking high in Google’s search results. How else will people know that your town is home to the world’s largest rocking chair? (That’s right, we’re looking at you, Casey, Illinois.)
What you might not realize is that Google recently updated how their algorithm works, placing a greater emphasis on speed and mobile-friendliness. You can guarantee that if your website was designed while Dawson’s Creek was still airing new episodes, it will hurt you in Google’s ranking now more than ever.
Your website is the first impression your city makes. If a picture is worth 1,000 words, your website is worth at least a million. How easily visitors can navigate through your website? Studies show that most site visitors will give you less than 15 seconds to try to find info or navigate.
Website design tools are readily available, but there is often a missing or lackluster component. More often than not, that piece ties back into SEO. The two are joined at the hip. You can make it pretty, but if people can’t find your site or easily navigate it, you’ve lost their business.
SEO, website design and website development are the trifecta of effectiveness. It’s complex stuff. If you haven’t hired anyone to check out or work on your site lately, do it. This is one of the most strategic ways to spend a digital marketing budget.
Be Community-Minded… Online (Your City’s Social Media)
For the most part, a city website is information heavy. There might be a link to pay a utility bill, but there is little room for engagement. That is where social media comes into play. The beauty of social media is that it allows direct access to your constituents and can be a direct reflection of your community’s values and personality.
Social Media Profiles
Similar to your website, your city’s social media profiles need to be updated regularly. They provide two way communication between those that govern and the governed. Fifteen years ago, the local paper was the place to get city news. At the same time, city council meetings might have been the only place for residents to engage with the city government.
Social media has flipped that on its head and shows no signs of slowing down. More of our news and local information is being consumed via social media channels. Leaders who acknowledge that times have changed are going to excel. Devoting resources to your social media presence opens channels to address city issues, engage and build trust.
Seek New Audiences
One of the inherent challenges with social media is that platforms are regularly falling out of favor and new ones seem to pop up overnight. Stalwarts like Facebook and Instagram are unlikely to go anywhere anytime soon, but that does not mean that other platforms are less valuable.
Take the time to understand where your residents are spending their time online. If that means that you need to pivot, do so with the understanding that it is in the best interest of the city. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to throw all of your eggs into one basket. Track engagement on platforms that you are using and devote resources accordingly.
Uplevel Your City’s Online Presence
Your city’s online presence provides an opportunity to reflect the community at large. If you are a retirement community, a hyper-progressive approach might not be appropriate. If your community skews young, you need to be super engaged with your digital native population. Take a practical approach and make your online presence as user friendly as possible. Remember that you know the community and what will resonate.
Now that you have realized that your city’s online presence looks straight out of the 1900s, it is time to reset and evaluate your next steps. Prioritize which pieces need immediate attention and devote resources to help bring your community pages into the new millennium. If you are unsure of where to start, or this is a completely foreign concept, the Your Business Marketer team of digital time travelers can help get your city back on track. Visit our website to learn more and connect with our team for a consultation.