By Anna Lothson
The numbers are in – the village is keeping social.
The Village of Oak Park's Twitter account has shot out slightly more tweets than they have followers. They've also made their presence on YouTube.
For those counting, it's up to 1,231 tweets for the 1,126 followers (as of Monday), and on the Facebook side there are 3,133 "likes." The YouTube channel has 91 subscribers 83,974 views, and has 101 videos posted. There village's e-news also has 1,002 subscribers.
Since 2009, the village has been keeping up with trends, yet the old-fashioned bi-monthly newsletter still remains a hit among residents, according to David Powers, the village's communication director, who said the community-wide survey revealed it was still a popular source of news.
Powers said municipalities around the country have caught the social media bug and realized how it's become a valuable tool to connect with its constituents. The only hesitation from a municipality standpoint, he said, is that it leaves an open forum for residents to spread negative rhetoric about the village – but not in Oak Park.
"We've found that's not been the case at all," he said. "It allows us to communicate back to them as much as possible."
For any unfavorable comments, he said, there are typically more supporters backing up the village.
Since Oak Park's sites are relatively established, Powers said he's got calls from other government agencies about how they handle their communications.
"Our goal is to try and post something every day on Facebook, and tweet a few times a day."
But with all forms of communication, regardless of forum, he said it's about the message is delivered. Each form, however, needs a little tweaking to cater to the audience's readership style.
"Just having it is not enough. We don't want to send out any information that's not useful," Powers said. "When it comes to the village or any organization, you have to make sure [the information] is valuable. You have to feed it constantly."
Unfortunately, Powers said, the village's social media director just left her post April 20. In her absence, however, Powers has stepped into the role, though he admits he's not as much of an expert as his predecessor.
The e-news began the first wave into the electronic forms of communication for the village, but the powers of Twitter, Facebook and YouTube have allowed the village to expand its voice in ways not previously available, Powers said.
"You have to change your message, but the fundamentals still remain the same," he said. "It's still like a tangible product."
Powers said the village has seen a steady growth of followers of its sites, but he knows communication and marketing basics will remain king as the sites expand.
"The tool is only as good as the message," Powers said.