The 4-1-1 on Hamilton
The digital front door to the city of Hamilton, OH (population of 62,447) is a very ungovernment-like website that is engaging and easy to navigate. We challenge you to find another government website with a rock band on the front page. (CivicPlus helped with the creation of the website.)
Hamilton, OH Fun Facts
- Hamilton was officially declared the “City of Sculpture” in 2000.
- “This beautiful and far-famed Miami Valley is the garden spot of the world.” This was the beginning of an Abraham Lincoln speech given in 1859 in Hamilton.
- In 1986, the city council voted in favor of adding an exclamation point to the city’s name. “Hamilton!” did not take off and does not appear on the city’s website.
I Stand Behind Hamilton Because….
Getting Social in Hamilton
Here are the social media platforms used by Hamilton, Ohio.
Used for the promotion of general information about Hamilton and what is happening in our community.
Examples: Showcasing free language learning programs from our local library, educating the public on ongoing infrastructure projects and how government funds are spent, promoting local events to engage the public, and informing citizens about power outages & road closures. I would also note that the vast majority of citizen requests and questions that come through social media occur through Facebook.
Used for day to day operations and timely communication.
Examples: All road closures and press releases, highlights of general information about Hamilton, and timely information about what is happening in our community.
We primarily use Instagram to provide compelling photos of ongoings in the community while generating media content for Twitter.
Example: Community concert and event photos, stock quality photos from around the community, and photos highlighting people in action.
Used to help deliver important day to day operational information – especially when this information is geographically specific.
Example: Gas main break affecting residents in one area of town would get all media releases pertaining to its repair resent to their neighborhood through Nextdoor.
Share “Wanted” requests and information, department information and news, Public Affairs/Outreach activities, public awareness notices (IRS scams, long-term road closures, etc.), humor, and human interest-type stories.
Twitter is primarily used as a secondary outlet and backup for Facebook content. It is also used it to reshare local tweets of importance (such as Wanted messages, road closures, etc.).
Social Media Managers
Hat tip to the creative minds behind Hamilton’s social media presence.
Jacob oversees the HamiltonOh accounts and contributes to Nextdoor while receiving support from outside staff as needed. Jacob dedicates about half of his staff time to these efforts.
Sky Sloderbeck (LinkedIn), Community Engagement Specialist, Hamilton Police Department
Sky oversees each of our HamiltonOhioPD accounts. Much like Jacob, she also receives support from outside staff as needed and also dedicates about half of her staff time to these efforts.
Keys to Success
I believe that strong community endorsement was key to our success in the round of 14. Of course, our own organization was a strong advocate for us, but in addition, neighborhood groups, local non-profits, and citizens helped get the word out.
The benefits of social media have spread throughout Hamilton over the past few years, especially on Facebook. The City of Hamilton has a dedicated and active Facebook audience, eclipsing more than 9,500 likes which was critical in securing our position in the final four.
Social Media Campaigns
Photo of the Week: This weekly contest allows us to directly engage our community, highlight the beautiful and sometimes unseen facets of it, while reaching a large number of people inside and outside our existing social network. The photo of the week is chosen every Wednesday and is showcased on our Instagram, Facebook page, Facebook cover photo, on Twitter, and before City Council meetings. The weekly reach of the effort frequently eclipses 5,000 to 10,000 people with the most successful reaching 20,000.
Hamilton Police Department’s Throwback Thursday (TBH): It lets us humanize the department while sharing history at the same time. It’s also loved by the community as many of them remember the officers and events, and enjoyed by the officers because it lets them remember events and mentors from years-past.
We Are Hamilton Launch: In 2015, our community, lead by the vision of Community First Solutions, embarked on a journey to create a video showcasing the community. This video was launched through Facebook in a launch campaign That collaborated across four Facebook pages to release teasers, cross promote the video when releases, and engage the community advocates of each organization during our live launch at the annual chamber dinner.
For Hamilton, our next steps are to hone our Twitter efforts and grow that audience.
Shout out goes to all Hamiltonians, young and old. Also, a shout out to the City’s fellowship call of 2013: Mercy Montgomery, Jacob Stone, and Aaron Hufford. This class of fellows worked to develop the Social Media Strategy that the City of Hamilton uses today.
What Question Should We Have Asked?
How do you feel your social media presence as a local government has impacted your community?
As a rustbelt city, Hamilton has been no stranger to hardship over the last few decades. The disinvestment in our community left a bad taste in the mouths of many, both in the region and first hand in our community. Social media has been one way that we are able to tell the story of our community’s renaissance, helping change perception and generate excitement about Hamilton’s future.
Over the past decade, Hamilton, Ohio has witnessed an impressive transformation. A rustbelt city steeped in a manufacturing legacy, Hamilton was known as the paper manufacturing capital of the world, producing paper for everything including the invitations used by the White House. Because of our reliance on large manufacturers, the 21st century did not bode well. During the Great Recession, the last of the paper manufacturers shuttered their doors and for the first time in more than a century, paper was not produced in Hamilton, Ohio. The ripple effect of the Great Recession and the closure of the paper mills adversely impacted the small businesses in the downtown, and as a result one block of downtown Hamilton had a staggering vacancy rate of 98%.
This hardship obviously did not leave our community unscathed and has greatly influenced the perception of our community in the eyes of not only the region but also our residents, community advocates, and leaders.
In 2010, Joshua Smith was hired by Hamilton City Council to be the City Manager. Joshua’s passion and energy were contagious, and a new strategy was developed to focus efforts on Hamilton’s downtown and urban core neighborhoods. The city focused on public investment in infrastructure, as well as public private partnerships to bring investment to downtown. Additionally, the city chose to focus on the arts. Recognized by the governor as the “City of Sculpture,” Hamilton doubled-down on its unique public sculptures and budding arts scene. In 2011, realizing the importance of transparency and telling our story, we began to reinvest as an organization in public communication with an even further emphasis on it 2013.
Hamilton has witnessed a total of $65 million in investment in downtown over the past 5 years, a total that hasn’t been matched in Hamilton for nearly 100 years. These strategic investments have transformed the heart of our community over the past few years boasting 100% occupancy along High Street where it was once a ghost town. In addition to these investments, Hamilton’s focus on job attraction has led to the attraction of 2,200 jobs over the past two years, including Barclaycard who announced they would be locating 1,500 jobs in Hamilton, the largest job announcement in the State of Ohio in more than a decade.
Social media has been critical in sharing this story and changing the public perception to that of a city experiencing an urban renaissance. By raising awareness of the great things that are happening in our community we are able to help leverage community advocates inspiring investments in personal time, effort, and financial capital. With each person we are able to touch, we find ourselves one tiny step closer to the next positive accomplishment in our community whether it be a family renovating a historic home in downtown, a small business setting up shop, or a large company locating in Hamilton.
Jobs, Jobs, Jobs
Love Hamilton, now? Check out their job openings.