Moving beyond managing towards building trust

More and more people are using the internet to interact and to get information about their local government. The human touch can be lost with the impersonal nature of the internet. We won’t end the debate of whether the internet is eroding or enhancing our society, but what we can do is create the kind of online spaces we seek in our real communities.

Governing bodies are groups of individuals that together work to further the good of all people in an area. Communicating this common goal and personalizing our online presence can build trust and relationships.

So how do we humanize our citys’ and towns’ online presence? The same way you gain trust in people.

Sincerity: Providing information to people is a straight-forward affair. But sometimes there are deeper issues, emotional concerns of residents. It’s not always easy to acknowledge these eloquently, but a little goes a long way. When addressing real people, sometimes we have to go beyond providing facts and data and talk about issues sincerely, getting to the heart of the matter. Here’s a great talk about leadership with Simon Sinek.

Humility: Being a public servant is an honor, though often taken for granted by those served. So much work done behind the scenes. There are times when constituents can be misinformed and vocal. As a public servant, you know how to maintain civility and professionalism in these circumstances. With the online medium, there is time to do even better, to make space even for trolls to practice free speech.

Humor: An excellent way to personalize our online presence is to have a laugh. Preferably at our own expense. There are some funny examples of turning internet fodder into funny memes. Here is Obama reading mean tweets. Bloopers of recorded video can also be funny and endearing, a way to humanize the often serious government staff.

The point is to make yourself more relatable, share the thoughts and interests of the city’s representatives and show that you are listening to other people online and off.

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