Gilbert met with several department heads last week to discuss the direction of the city’s new website as well as its Facebook pages, Twitter feed and Instagram account.
Gilbert and a group of city representatives recently questioned Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox about his city’s successful social media strategy, which was highlighted in the October 2013 issue of The Alabama Municipal Journal.
After the sit-down, Gilbert saw the need to follow Tuscaloosa’s lead by creating one page for city business and another that will carry police and fire updates.
“I was under the impression that we would put it all together, but there are some things like arrests or a house burning that you don’t really want on your main feed. You want it to be specific to your emergency services,” Gilbert said.
The city currently has three Facebook pages.
“Cordova, AL” uses the city’s seal as a profile picture and is mostly confined to administrative posts such as bid notices and job openings. “The Cordova Conversation” began as a blog after the April 2011 tornadoes and is dedicated to recovery updates. “Cordova FireRescue” is operated by members of the volunteer fire department.
Police Chief Nick Smith recently deactivated his department’s page but will be collaborating with Fire Chief Dean Harbison on a new one named “Cordova Emergency Services.”
Gilbert said council member Lauren Vance, who is currently posting most of the updates to “The Cordova Conversation,” will likely be managing the first responders page. City clerk Leanne Dawkins will continue to be responsible for the city’s main Facebook page.
Gilbert, who left Facebook over a year ago in favor of Twitter, will be developing tweets for the city’s more than 100 followers.
Department heads will be charged with passing along information in a group text or email for the respective administrators to post.
“Within 10 minutes of closing a road, for example, we’ll have it on Facebook, Twitter and the website. The power we can harness if we do this the right way is unending. Plus, it will unify our message because we’ll all be saying the same thing at the same time,” Gilbert said.
Each social media channel will be used for a specific purpose.
The City of Cordova Facebook and Twitter pages will provide general information about events, meetings, holiday closings and the street and sanitation department.
“Cordova Emergency Services” will keep residents up to date on emergency situations, road closures, inclement weather and storm shelter openings.
The Instagram account will publicize photos of city-sponsored events, meeting agendas and building projects.
The website, which went live in January, will be the most extensive informational resource.
Currently, residents can visit the site for business license applications, residential garbage routes and conceptual renderings of the 40-family housing unit that could soon be constructed downtown.
Gilbert said that although Facebook is the way to reach the most residents in a timely manner, an underlying goal of all posts will be to drive traffic to the website.
He encouraged those in charge of the Facebook pages to keep the updates brief so that users will follow the link to the website for the full story.
“The more people we can get to the website, the more likely it is that they will find something they weren’t really looking for in the first place,” Gilbert said.
According to Gilbert, the next step in implementing the plan will be contacting Facebook about merging the city’s existing pages so that no current followers are lost.