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All things special district and technology related

Why Relying Solely on Facebook can be Problematic

on February 28, 2023 By | Annelise Spargo | 0 Comments | Marketing
Every day we talk to districts across the country that use Facebook as their primary (and often only) online presence.  We get it, Facebook is easy to set up, easy to manage, and easy to share updates. While Facebook can have many benefits, relying solely on a social media platform can create several issues for districts and their constituents. Let's check out 3 things to consider when using Facebook as the primary online presence: 1. Not everyone has a Facebook account. According to a 2021 survey by the Pew Research Center, only 69% of American adults use Facebook, and the number of users is decreasing daily. This means that by relying solely on Facebook, districts are excluding a significant portion of their constituents from accessing important information and updates.  Additionally, even for those who do have a Facebook account, it can be challenging to navigate and find the information they need. Facebook’s algorithm typically prioritizes content based on engagement, which means that important updates from local governments can easily get lost in users’ newsfeeds. This can create a situation where crucial information is missed by residents, leading to confusion and frustration. 2. Facebook is not a reliable source of information. Facebook’s terms of service state that the company cannot guarantee the accuracy of the information shared on its platform. This means that districts run the risk of sharing inaccurate information, which can have serious consequences for their constituents and impact the credibility of the district. Or in a worst-case scenario, one port district in California was shocked to find out that a Facebook page with their name on it was posting about a beer festival. After some investigating, they determined that a resident created a false Facebook page and was posting updates as the district, but the community had no way of knowing that it was a fake account.  3. Relying on Facebook can lead to issues with transparency and accountability. Unlike a government website, which is owned and managed by the government itself, Facebook is a third-party platform. This means that districts have less control over how their information is presented and shared. Additionally, Facebook’s algorithm determines which posts are shown to users, which can create a situation where important updates are not seen by residents. If the community can’t see it, they won’t know you’re doing it. And because Facebook is a social media platform, there is nowhere to reliably share important documents like agendas, minutes, and budgets - all of which are crucial in building trust and credibility with the community.  Instead of relying on Facebook alone, districts should focus on building a robust online presence that includes a website, social media platforms, and other digital channels that are accessible to all community members. Stay tuned for the next iteration of our Facebook series where we cover best practices for using Facebook effectively.  Sources:     1    Perrin, A. (2021, April 7). Social Media Fact Sheet. Pew Research Center.     2    Facebook Terms of Service.
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State of Special Districts: The Top 6 Insights From 2022

on December 15, 2022 By | Annelise Spargo | 0 Comments | Special district love
What did it mean to be a special district in 2022? Over the last year, we talked with thousands of district managers, board members, attorneys, associations, management companies, mayors, state senators, US senators, and legislators. Here are the top 6 most impactful things that stood out to us in 2022.  
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State of Special Districts 2022: Outreach Score

on September 21, 2022 By | Annelise Spargo | 0 Comments |
As special districts, we know the importance of reaching out to our communities to share our expert information, and to ensure our behind-the-scenes work doesn't go unnoticed. Which is why we have launched the Special District Outreach Score!
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State of Special Districts 2022: Growth by State

on August 18, 2022 By | Annelise Spargo | 0 Comments | Special district love
While the number of Special Districts has increased since 2017, this story of growth has unfolded differently in each state. States like Colorado and Florida saw their district count grow by 17% and 13%, respectively. On the other hand, Iowa experienced a decrease in special districts of -13%. Overall, special districts are quite stable in the US with the vast majority of states growing or shrinking their count by 5% or less, and as we mentioned in our previous post, the US has experienced a healthy overall gain of 800 new districts since 2017.   Map: District Growth by State (2017-2022)
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The State of Special Districts 2022

on July 14, 2022 By | Annelise Spargo | 0 Comments | Special district love
Special districts are the most common form of government in the United States, and their popularity continues to grow. Since 2017, the U.S. has added almost 800 new special districts, bringing the total number of independent districts to an all-time high of 39,262. 
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Website accessibility for special districts: What is the risk, really?

By the end of 2023, more than 10% of districts are estimated to be affected by a website ADA claim. This rapid increase is startling, and we want to help you stay informed and prepared for any risks facing special districts.  
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How this district’s newsletter went from bust to boom

on June 9, 2022 By | Annelise Spargo | 0 Comments | Marketing
We’ve heard from a lot of districts that using email to better communicate with the community is a priority, but they just don’t know where to get started. How do you find email addresses and what do you include in the email?
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Everyone Needs a Special District Rockstar

on May 23, 2022 By | Annelise Spargo | 0 Comments | Streamline in action Special district love
We speak with literally hundreds of special districts every week. And we’ve found that the best-run districts all have a special district "rockstar." This isn’t the person who actually puts out the fires, keeps the water clean, or kills the mosquito larvae.
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HB 2560 FAQ: Remote Public Meetings for Oregon Special Districts

on May 2, 2022 By | Annelise Spargo | 0 Comments | Website requirements Streamline in action
As of January 1, 2022,  governing bodies in Oregon are now required to make meetings accessible remotely and provide the opportunity for members of the public to remotely submit oral and written testimony. 
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How this special district helped create Colorado

on April 15, 2022 By | Chris Ryan | 0 Comments |
Special districts are carved into the foundation of Colorado. As early settlers moved west, they found themselves well beyond the reach of the government back east, and needed a way to organize themselves. John Gregory formed the first special district out west to help provide services to the ever-growing settlements that popped up around the gold mines. Just like the districts of today, independent-minded people got together to create an organization that was responsive to their local needs. And this is the intriguing story of how the first special district, and the state of Colorado, came to be.
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