Applying public ideas to government in the Lone Star State

2 11 2009

I recently completed an academic research paper examining some of the ways in which interactive media, which for sake of this post will include social media, is relating to government. It is along these lines that I find it very fitting to devote a post to the efforts being undertaken in a small Texas town, which could prove to be a litmus test for government adoption of new media tools.

Thanks to the terrific website govfresh.com, I learned about an interesting scenario playing out in the Lone Star State. Manor, Texas is now utilizing the power of collaborative, social crowd sourcing to improve governance. At the very least, that is the idea behind the application called Manor Labs. Essentially, the town realized that there are issues that could be improved for the betterment of the community. However, the questions that come up often in any government body is how to best approach an attempt at a solution to a given problem. Instead of relying upon the combined perspectives of an esoteric few officials huddled inside a boardroom at city hall, why not open up the thought process to the public, the constituents, who interact throughout the community on a daily basis in a multitude of ways. The officials of Manor, Texas Manor, Texas decided to take this process a step further. Instead of limiting idea contribution solely to those living within the town limits, anyone who has Internet access can provide a suggestion. I think this is an excellent advancement to an already great idea, mainly because chances are good that another community elsewhere has or is dealing with similar difficulties and people from these communities can easily provide suggestions that may be applicable in Manor. Voila, a potential solution from someone who has never set foot inside this Texas town!

Motivation can sometimes be lacking when it comes to public participation in local politics this is nothing new. One potential motivating factor may assist in convincing people to check out the Manor Labs application is that of Innobucks. These serve as a currency within the Manor Labs space and can be accumulated from ideas being submitted. A marketplace is therefore present within the application so users can choose to cash in their Innobucks for real, tangible rewards. Although the selection is limited, users Innobucks could be used to spend a shift riding along with the Chief of Police or be Mayor for a day or win a unique custom framed Texas flag. Texas flag

What is happening in Manor, Texas is exciting and could serve as a very valuable model for other communities in the years to come. The fact that a smaller Texas town has realized, coordinated and enacted a working system to harness public insights for the sake of making a better community is proof that government can work for the people. I am curious to see how Manor will build off of this application to make government even more responsive to public input. The future of government, especially relating to interactive media, may be before us in Texas, we all should be taking notice.





Meshing marketing with social media = tips

28 10 2009

As you read this, people are logging online. Many people in fact. Many of whom you will never meet. You will never get to shake their hands or share a hug with any of them.

Imagine that scenario from a marketer’s perspective. Your goal, hence your livelihood, depends on connecting with those online strangers. Questions is, how in the world can that be done and done effectively? Increasingly, one answer is social media.

Just as the name implies, social media revolves around the idea that people can build a relationship of sorts with others, who they have not physically met and probably never will, by bridging their solidarity with shared interests. If you are a marketer, it is imperative you harness these opportunities to some degree. In order to do this, it would be wise to begin your marketing endeavor by reading Jessica Want’s post at iMedia Connection. As an information architect at the New York City interactive marketing agency Flightpath, she provides some insightful perspectives on how to go about making social media work for your intended purposes.

It may seem simply silly to state this but I bet some folks out there fail to relate this pretty important component of social media, relate to the audience! There is no way any marketing venture will result in satisfactory results if no attempts are made first to understand the audience, what they are like, how to they see things, how do they feel about particular issues. Basically, this is the equivalent of electronically walking in the audience’s shows. Taking the time to do this sort of activity will likely provide solid dividends down the line.

Unless full faith can be had in independently owned online spaces, it would be helpful to own your own parcel of online real estate to use as the launching pad for any interactive social marketing campaign. The form of this space can take on a plethora of forms, depending on many factors such as your target audience or financial considerations. Whatever form the space takes on, it’s success will be restricted if it isn’t easy! Remember the old adage, “Keep it simple, stupid!” Well, it is very apt in this type of situation. Don’t build a marketing effort through social media where users have to go through cumbersome registrations, perform security checks, sell their favorite pair of jeans or go download a hefty file that will take occupy a nice chunk of their hard disk. These are not easy. They are not generally fun; at least I am making a guess the majority of people would not be smiling after all of these tasks.

To be clear, this is not an exhaustive list of tips on creating social media that is actually useable. Rather, it is meant to bring attention to the topic and highlight a couple of what I think are the most important points presented by Ms. Want. I encourage you to read more at her post. What do you know; I am being social and utilizing media doing it! It is funny how things work out that way.