Government, city agencies on board with social media

In an effort to connect to more residents, an increasing number of city associations and government departments are embracing popular social networking tools.

“The newer generations are really using this stuff — Facebook and Twitter,” Redwood City Library Director Dave Genesy said. “We really need to get information on demand.”

Last year, the San Mateo County elections office launched a Twitter account. It currently has 461 followers who receive notices — no more than 140 words, as is standard with Twitter — on everything from national voter studies to registration information and election results.

“It’s another way of being transparent about what we are doing,” said Carol Marks, communications director for the San Mateo County Elections. “We announce when the polls have closed or invite voters down to the office to watch the counting.”

The Redwood City School District, the San Mateo Union High School District, South San Francisco, the police departments for Belmont, Foster City and Hillsborough and the downtown associations for Redwood City and San Mateo also have Twitter accounts.

“The fact is [social networking] is viral,” Redwood City Community Services Manager Jordana Freeman said. “If one person says they’re going to an event, all their friends see it. You can’t put a price on viral marketing.”

Freeman said she’s noticed a difference in the number of people attending city events since the city launched its Facebook page earlier this year. The group now has more than 1,000 members.

akoskey@sfexaminer.com

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