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@Twitter: City Councilmember adopts realtime Web polling

Las Vegas City CouncilmanSteve Ross likes Wedgies realtime Web polling. A lot.

So much so that the city councilman requested, via Twitter, a baseball cap from the downtown Las Vegas startup.

In a ceremony at Ross’ office, Wedgies co-founders Porter Haney and Jimmy Jacobson handed over a hat featuring the company’s logo — a dinosaur eating a doughnut. Afterward, Ross tweeted a photo of the meeting and thanked the two for helping him become more tech savvy.

Ross has been using Wedgies to poll his approximately 900 Twitter followers on city issues such as the downtown arena proposal, More Cops tax and Container Park policies. Wedgies allows online polls to be shared through social media, text message and website embedding.

Ross’ increased presence on social media is part of Las Vegas’ efforts to bolster its social media use.

In 2013, the city communications department formed a social media group to lead efforts. Since then, its Facebook fans have doubled to 6,000 and Twitter followers have tripled to 14,000. The city is also on Tumblr, YouTube and Instagram under the handle “cityoflasvegas.”

“Clearly this is the way people communicate in the 21st century,” said David Riggleman, Las Vegas communications director. “We needed to be in step with the times.”

Riggleman said the need to monitor and use Twitter became apparent during an August meeting with Ross and his constituents to discuss cleanup of the Kyle Canyon detention basin.

One hundred people attended and all were users of Facebook and Twitter.

“That underscored to me the importance of continuing on with our strategy of communicating more through social media,” Riggleman said. “They were of all economic backgrounds, all age groups. It wasn’t just the young social media types. It was across the board on ethnicity, economic background, gender. That speaks volumes, the fact that everyone was on social media.”

When asked for the best means of distributing information, many said they prefer social media.

Ross said he is hesitant to have conversations on Twitter and prefers to pick up the phone but said he sees the value in opening up conversation. City councilmen primarily rely on e-newsletters to inform their constituents.

The city also uses Las Vegas-based Ticketcake ticket sales platform and Social Office Suite, a social media management tool.

Early on it consulted with Digital Royalty, a Las Vegas-based social media strategy company known for working with famous athlete Shaquille O’Neal and large companies such as Nike and Chevrolet.

Riggleman said New York, Seattle and Boston excel in their social media use but notes that New York City has 139,000 followers and 8 million residents, meaning Las Vegas has more followers per capita.

“If we’re going to be an effective government, we have to be able to communicate with people in the way they want,” Riggleman said.

Contact reporter Kristy Totten at ktotten@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3809. Follow @kristy_tea on Twitter.

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