At the TTF Meeting last night the Town Staff asked one of those really important questions that, frankly, I should have answered in an earlier session… “Why does Cary need to spend money on Social Media and a new website?”
The Town “built” a new website in 2009, after working on the development for 2 years. It’s a valid question – and in my mind there are two answers.First, the site was developed prior to the explosion of Tablets and iPads – which are mobile devices. Because of that, the site does not navigate well for folks looking for information from their iPhone, iPad, Droid, Tablet. The percentage of people looking for information on these devices in the next 24 months will likely double.
Okay, that explains the website – but what does the website have to do with Social Media?
The Town Council has expressed an interest in communicating and engaging with Citizens in a more robust manner – understanding that folks under the age of 40 are less and less likely to use email. That’s one reason to embrace the Technology available to communicate and engage using Social Media Tools.
The more important reason to use these tools comes from the fact that Google started making changes in 2010 to adjust for the emergence of mobile devices, and the importance of Social Search.
In fact, Google’s made over 750 changes to the way it ranks web pages since the beginning of 2010. With those changes, just having Content (all of those pages on our website) and things pointing to that content (all of those Real Estate Agents for example that have links to the Town’s Site) aren’t enough to get information “seen.” You now need social interaction.
Giving Citizen’s the ability to easily share information from the Town’s website on Social Channels should be a priority. Monitoring what the Citizen’s are saying about the Town (both positive and negative) should also be a priority that is done using the most up to date tools.
Bottom line? The Town Website NEEDS to be Social and Mobile for it to functional in today’s technology environment. This is important not only for engaging with current Cary Citizens – it’s also important for Economic Development.
The INFORMATION that Cary Citizens, and others are looking for on the Town Website will not be easily found unless it is more “social.” This is not just a Google shift – in July of 2012, Bing had over 30% of all Searches done – because of it’s connection with Facebook. Bing introduced Social Search in August of 2012.
Additionally, it’s important to note that Town of Cary Citizens are having conversations about the Town, asking questions, and offering interesting solutions to complex problems and the Town is not in those conversations – unless they are ALSO engaging with Citizens via Social Media.