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Municipal Facebook

Facebook: towns and citizens connect

Cats and selfies help municipalities connect with citizen

In January 2012 the Danish municipality of Høje-Taastrup went social, launching its new Facebook page. Over the course of two years, the town has discovered that Facebook is a powerful tool. With far more reach than the web, it has allowed the municipality to engage citizens in political debate, interact with young people and raise civic pride.

“Setting up the page was the easy bit, although all the procedures were very carefully planned,” admits the municipality’s communications consultant Birgitte Städe. “The real challenge was to raise awareness of the page and make it one that people wanted to follow, where they might engage with us. We worked really hard to get our first 1000 likes, but that was the critical mass we needed. After that we saw an increase in the number of likes and a lot more interaction between citizens as well as conversations with us. Now we have nearly 3900 likes and every post gets at least 1000 views most of the time.”

The ideal online mix

Ms Städe points out that the very nature of Facebook makes it an excellent channel for engaging with citizens. “Both web and Facebook are valuable channels. However Facebook is really valuable l for promoting events, inspiring people, raising awareness and having conversations,” she says.

In many cases it’s very valuable to link people from Facebook back to the website where they can access more information.

As municipality you need to adopt Facebook’s informal, spur-of-the-moment style. Most municipal employees will already be using Facebook personally, so they just need to apply the same approach to the municipal page. “It is good to know what is trending on Facebook, what has gone viral, and to think about whether we can use popular posts to our advantage,” says Ms Städe, although she cautions that rules must be in place. “Guidelines are essential because one poorly worded or thoughtless post can have terrible consequences for an organisations reputation because everything is so public and seen by so many people.”

As part of the Opening Up project, the Danish City of Karlstad has shared its Facebook guidelines for other municipalities to adapt and adopt.

“Facebook:  valuable for inspiring people and having conversations.”

Summary of benefits

  • Reach new audiences, especially young people
  • Have conversations with citizens
  • Reach a much bigger audience than municipal website
  • Push stories out to citizens’ news feeds
  • Adverts and sponsored content increase views
  • Facilitate political debate
  • Additional channel for customer service
  • Raise reputation


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.