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Street talk: Facebook helps towns engage with young people

A youth-friendly page on Facebook helps municipalities engage with young people. Where would you go to find young people and discover what they think about their town?


Ask any parent: teenagers are notoriously difficult to talk to. But in 2013, prior to local elections, Høje-Taastrup in Denmark tried out new ways to let them talk online.

“We launched a Facebook page specifically for young people at the time of the elections because we wanted to increase voter participation in this demographic,” explains Birgitte Städe, Communications Consultant in the town. “We reckoned that young people were more likely to say what they thought on Facebook than participating in traditional meetings.”

But you can’t just find all the young people and say: “Go on Facebook and tell us what you think.” Campaigns have to be far more engaging and interesting. So as part of the Opening Up project, the town’s Facebook team talked to local youth clubs, teenagers hanging around the town’s railway station and shopping mall, and young politicians.

One of the activities was a Facebook campaign: a selfie competition to show how young people “rule the city”.

“We wanted to reach these young people on their own terms,” explains Ms Städe, “not to talk down to them, or expect them to speak to us. We left them to it. Selfies are all the craze; letting these people show us the things and places that mattered the most to them helped to start dialogue with them. At the same time it allowed them to take pride in themselves and their city.”

Following the competition, the Facebook page has gained nearly 400 ‘likes’ and is now a channel for communication with younger people. One of the strategic priorities for the municipality is to encourage more young people to carry on in education; Facebook is helping to get this message across.

The Facebook page is one element of a four-year project called “Education for all” which aims to raise levels of education among young people in Høje-Taastrup.

“We wanted to reach young people on their own terms, not talk down to them.”

Summary of benefits

  • Young people feel comfortable to speak out on Facebook

  • Facebook is part of youth culture

  • Photos and selfies make it easy for young people to express themselves

  • A competition helps to build up a following

Next steps

Fancy Facebook? Analyse your municipality’s digital maturity and readiness for social media

Further reading

  • Guidelines for Facebook – Karlstad

  • Guidelines for Facebook - Groningen

Web links


Birgitte Städe, Communication Consultant, Høje-Taastrup Municipality, Denmark. Email:

Birgitte Städe has been leading the Opening Up project in Høje-Taastrup and has worked with colleagues to launch Høje-Taastrup on social media, primarily the municipality’s official Facebook-page.