Web and Social Engagement Course

This training will cover the basics of engaging members of the public using websites and social media. Participants will learn to create a simple village website and to promote local events using social media, such as Facebook and Twitter. The training will focus on reaching members of the community who might not otherwise take an interest in local government by creating an accessible and engaging online presence.


Web and Social Media Engagement Materials

Online Engagement

Publishing/Broadcast Model

  • Based on TV and print media
  • One-way communication
  • Mass messaging(not personalized)
  • Not really engaging individuals

Broadcast Model

Engagement Model

  • Two-way communication
  • Customized messaging
  • Connecting with individuals
  • Possible using online tools

Engagement Model

Engagement Pyramids

  • Goal: Move constituents from no/minimal engagement
    to higher levels of engagement
  • Moving people up the pyramid requires:
    • Knowing who your constituents are
    • Providing opportunities to engage
    • Tracking responses to opportunities

Engagement Pyramids

Engagement levels developed at Groundwire.

Why Do Online Engagement?

  • Participatory democracy works best when a wide variety of people are engaged in government
  • Some people can’t or won’t connect though
    traditional means

    • Work schedule, family responsibilities, or transportation limitations may make it difficult to attend meetings
    • Millennials expect to be able to access and share information online
  • Online engagement can help to reach these people

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Social Media

What are Social Media?

  • Social: interactive sharing of information
  • Media: connect with many people at once
  • Easiest way to start online engagement
    • Platform is already built for you
    • Audience is already in place
    • Allows you to focus on content and engagement

Social Media Tips

  • Fresh content is key
    • Set a goal for the number of posts per month
    • Use share/retweet features sparingly
    • Photos help to grab users’ attention
  • Increase engagement by encouraging responses
    • Post a question or an informal poll
    • Respond to all constructive comments
    • Encourage event participants to share their experiences on social media

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About Facebook

  • One of the oldest and best established social media platforms
  • Users create a profile with information about themselves and connect with other users by becoming friends
  • Users connect with an organization by liking that organization’s page
  • Updates posted on the organization’s page appear in the news feed for users who have liked the page


Register for Facebook

Sign up at the Facebook home page.

Facebook Sign-Up Form

Create a Facebook Page

Start the process of Facebook page creation.

Facebook Create Page

Fill in information about your municipality.

Facebook About Page


Be sure to set your location under Preferred Page Audience.

Facebook Preferred Page Audience

Complete Your Facebook Page

  1. Set a profile photo
  2. Set a cover photo
  3. Fill in contact information
  4. Post a status update,photo, or event
  5. Invite friends to like the page

Facebook Complete Page

Monitor Engagement Using Insights

Facebook Insights

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About Twitter

  • Social media platform designed for quick,frequent updates
  • Users (and organizations) connect with other users by following them
    • Unlike becoming friends on Facebook, following on Twitter is a one-way relationship
  • Tweets are limited to 140 characters
  • Photos and videos can be shared as part of tweets

Sign up for Twitter

Start the process by signing up for a Twitter account.
Twitter Sign Up Form
Twitter Username

Complete Your Profile

  1. Set a profile photo
  2. Start tweeting
  3. Search for users to follow
Twitter Complete Profile

Start Tweeting

  • Use #hashtags to tag a tweet as related to a topic
  • Use @mentions to reference another user
  • Be witty—and concise! (140 characters maximum)
  • Images and web links count as 22 characters regardless of length

Twitter Tweet

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E-mail Newsletters

About E-mail Newsletters

  • Newsletter platforms assist in managing e-mail communication with a large group of people
  • Newsletters help to protect the privacy of recipients and avoid unwanted reply-to-alls
  • Recipients can subscribe or unsubscribe online
  • Newsletter authors can see how many times the newsletter was opened and links were clicked

Sign up for TinyLetter

TinyLetter Sign-Up Form

Import Existing Subscribers

TinyLetter Import Subscribers

Compose a Newsletter

TinyLetter Compose Newsletter


Track Reader Engagement

  • Opens: people who opened the e-mail
  • Clicks: people who clicked a link in the e-mail

TinyLetter Statistics

E-mail Newsletter Tips

  • Develop a regular schedule for your newsletter
  • Keep your content concise
  • Add links to web pages, sign-up forms, etc.
    • Watch the unique clicks number to see how many people were interested in your content
  • Encourage replies
    • Ask a question
    • Invite comments from subscribers

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Municipal Website

About Municipal Websites

  • Your city or village’s home on the web
  • Allows greater control of content and presentation than social media platforms
  • Serves as a clearinghouse of information
    • Contact information
    • Official documents
    • Schedules and calendars
  • Creates a permanent archive of content


  • Hosted version of the popular WordPress blogging software
  • Supports two types of web content
    • Pages: permanent, static information
    • Posts: time-sensitive content (e.g., news stories)
  • Themes customize the appearance of the site
  • Free version is supported by ads and does not allow custom domain names

Choose a Theme

WordPress Choose Theme

Register for a WordPress Site

WordPress Sign-Up Form

Complete Your Site

  1. Add pages
  2. Customize menus
  3. Add posts
  4. View the site
  5. Track statistics


WordPress Complete Site

Add Posts and Pages

  1. Set the title
  2. Add text
  3. Add an excerpt (summary)
  4. Add a featured image


WordPress Add Posts and Pages

Upload Images and Documents

WordPress Insert Media

View Your Site

WordPress Home Page

Required Content

The Illinois Open Meetings Act requires the following content on local governments websites maintained by full-time staff:

  • Location, time, and date of public meetings
    • Schedule posted at the start of the calendar or fiscal year
    • Changes posted at least 10 days in advance
  • Meetings agendas
    • Posted at least 48 hours before the meeting
  • Meeting minutes
    • Posted within 7 days of approval

The Illinois Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requires additional documents on the website:

  • Municipal budget
  • Employee salaries and benefits
  • Contracts worth more than $25,000
  • Board member names and e-mail addresses
  • And other documents specified in FOIA (5 ILCS 140)

In addition, the website must provide contact information and instructions for making a FOIA request.

Municipal Website Tips

  • Make contact information easy to find
  • Keep menus to seven items or fewer
  • Make content “scannable”:
    • Headings
    • Lists
    • Shorter paragraphs
  • Use images to add interest
  • Encourage visitor comments where appropriate

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Website Accessibility

Accessibility Requirements

  • Websites are considered a “program or service” of local government under Title II of ADA
  • The current standards are the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0
  • Content must be:
    • Perceivable
    • Operable
    • Understandable
    • Robust


Headings must be used in order.

Accessibility Headings


Content images must have alt text.

Accessibility Alternative Text


Lists must be used for sequential items.

Board members: John Doe, Jane Smith, Frank Green, Sally White

Board members:

  • John Doe
  • Jane Smith
  • Frank Green
  • Sally White


Link text must be descriptive.

Click here to download the September Village Board meeting minutes.

To learn more, download the September Village Board meeting minutes.

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Facebook Resources

Twitter Resources

TinyLetter Resources

WordPress Resources

Open Meetings and Accessibility Resources

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