What I’m Reading: American Spy by Lauren Wilkinson
What I’m Listening to: Stuff You Should Know
What I’m Watching: Various movies starring Nicholas Cage
Why should a local government have a YouTube channel?
YouTube is a place where cities can showcase all the information residents need to stay informed. Engaging videos that connect with locals go a long way in promoting community unity, pride, public participation, and building awareness of what’s going on.
Community residents want access to accurate information. However, according to data from National Research Center at Polco, only approximately 20% of US residents have ever attended a public meeting in person. That’s because most people prefer to watch a public meeting online than physically attend one. Many barriers keep the average resident from participating in person.
So, the local government must help make information more accessible to everyone. Online video platforms, such as YouTube, are a perfect solution.
If you are hesitant to spend the time and money on creating content for your city on YouTube, check out the following statistics:
- 6 out of 10 people prefer online video platforms to live TV.
- YouTube is the second largest search engine and the second most visited site after Google.
- 1 in 5 YouTube users say YouTube videos help them understand essential issues on a local and global level.
What makes a city YouTube channel great?
Every successful local government channel should have the following basics:
- A straightforward name that links it to the city it serves
- Eye-catching channel art that pertains to the city
- The city’s emblem or logo to use as the channel’s profile picture
- A professionally edited feature video with current information
- An “About Us” section with helpful background details and links to the city’s official website and other social media
- Playlists of like-minded videos that the user can easily navigate through
- A list of other YouTube channels that promote local businesses, organizations, and noteworthy people
- Videos showcasing highlights of meetings, community survey results, and tourist attractions
Ten channels that are a great example to follow
The channel offers: An active channel with over 2,000 videos, Bloomington offers its residents an organized tool with plenty of information. This allows them to stay informed and connected with their community. They have videos that touch on every sector of their city, including but not limited to city council meetings, Housing and Redevelopment Authority issues, and more.
What stands out: Consistency is vital. Bloomington consistently uploads videos and organizes them in playlists, making it easier for their viewers to find the information they need. Because they have optimized their channel to be user-friendly, their subscriber count is high for a local government channel with over 5,000 subscribers.
The channel offers: Temecula offers professional stylized videos that promote the modern lifestyle the City wants to portray. They also provide playlists that break down their Board and Commission meetings into categories like public traffic and safety, race and equality, and community service.
What stands out: Temecula has a series titled “Shop Small Saturday,” where they promote local businesses in and around the City. This series is a great networking tool that also helps to stimulate the local economy. Keeping these videos relatively short increases the chances of the video being shared. Thus increasing the channels’ reach.
These videos are also an excellent opportunity to share content featuring thoughts and experiences from those in the community – known as user-generated content. This type of content is excellent, considering businesses and consumers are more likely to share what is more relevant to them and their audience.
The channel offers: Morgantown uploads themed videos like Behind the Seal, where they take their community behind the scenes to learn more about the departments and people who help run their local government. They also share videos that showcase different initiatives, including but not limited to Recycle Right Morgantown and Bike Safe. Walk Safe. Drive Safe.
What stands out: They have a series titled “How Do I…?” which teaches viewers how to sign up for City emergency alerts, how to get building permits, and even how to run for city council. By providing this information through video format, they educate constituents. This gives viewers the confidence to handle matters independently without needing further help.
The channel offers: Saint Paul provides a diverse selection of videos and playlists to view. Their topics range from city council meetings and projects to highlighting girls and women in sports and local indigenous history.
What stands out: On the homepage, there is a featured video that showcases the community coming together to plan and build a new park and green space. Having this video on the homepage shows visitors that the City of Saint Paul cares about its residents. The video also reminds neighbors that they have a say in their community, which creates local pride and drives trust in leadership.
The channel offers: The City of Phoenix gives residents a place to stay informed of council meetings, live gavel to gavel coverage, and news about upcoming programs and activities.
What stands out: Phoenix uses every aspect of the YouTube channel. They have a detailed “About” section, they list other local media, interact with their community, and have a wide selection of diverse playlists for their viewers to browse. When you put it all together, it shows that this City knows what it is doing on this platform and will be a valuable information source.
The channel offers: Edina has a vast array of videos that encourage local awareness and pride. These include Town Talks, Public Art Profiles, and On the Job, where they showcase a behind-the-scenes look at some lesser-known public jobs in the area.
What stands out: Edina features two video series called Agenda and Mayor’s Minutes, which both summarize current important information their residents need to know. These series are excellent for viewers who do not have a lot of time but want to stay as informed as possible about their community.
7. City of Allen, TX
The channel offers: The City of Allen provides weekly Mayor updates called Allen Updates, another series called Eat. Sip. Shop. Play Local, and a series titled The Loop, which summarizes upcoming events and recent accomplishments.
What stands out: The City’s homepage features a live feed of their public access channel. The homepage showcases upcoming events, local weather, local advertising, and video segments on local issues. The live feed also gives viewers a chance to chat with others about anything. Through this live stream, the City holds to its motto, Always Allen, Always On.
The channel offers: Fort Collins showcases local businesses and lists local talent. The City also posts videos that educate residents on lowering their utility bills, recycling the correct way, and better preparing for emergencies.
What stands out: Fort Collins features State of the City videos. These high-quality productions discuss critical issues the City recently faced and explain what they did to overcome them. The videos recap what happened, reveal what actions were taken, and hopefully help viewers find closure and satisfaction with the City’s response. The series also demonstrates Fort Collins’ commitment to transparency and helps leaders build public trust.
9. City of Calgary, Alberta
The channel offers: Calgary offers engagement with their Monday Motivation series, transparency with their Assessment series, and innovation from videos explaining how to use the 311 Calgary app. They also list other local organizations that their residents would find helpful to follow in their channel section.
What stands out: The City has a series called #ConnectTheDotsYYC, where they post short videos highlighting mental health issues. The hope is to help residents get access to help they may need to overcome any mental health or addiction challenges.
The channel offers: Grand Rapids publishes blog-like videos from the mayor, the police chief, and other local government employees. This gives the viewer an inside, informal look at what is currently happening in that sector. The channel also offers videos that provide updates on important issues like voting information, weapons ordinance, and the most recent census.
What stands out: Like most major cities, Grand Rapids has a large Hispanic and non-English speaking population. So, they include important videos in Spanish and provide an entire YouTube channel for their Spanish-speaking residents, which is featured on the homepage. Many local governments overlook Spanish-speaking populations in social media communications. Having a channel dedicated to non-English-speaking residents allows them to stay informed and shows them that their City cares and appreciates them.
Polco Live and your YouTube channel
Polco Live is an online community engagement feature that enables organizations to get real-time, valuable feedback during video streams and other live events. Residents can easily answer survey questions as they watch council meetings streamed on YouTube. Local governments can even host those streams within Polco Live itself, so viewers can fully participate in one convenient spot.
You can use Polco Live to engage audiences for budget and strategic plans, programs and initiatives, public comments, policy development, and performance measurement.
It helps to make the experience more engaging and gives you immediate, reliable results. Audiences can see polls, answer questions, add comments and watch live results unfold.
Polco Live is an informative and secure option for any local government looking to engage their community through live format and get visualized data with a breakdown of comments and demographics from each poll.
Online video has become a preferred medium for news and information for most Americans. Knowing most US adults use YouTube, and with innovative ideas from these top ten local government channels, you won’t go wrong to reach residents there.