weather icon Clear

City of Las Vegas tapping into the potential of social media

What happens in Vegas is likely to end up on one of the city’s social media accounts.

From Twitter and Tumblr to Facebook and Snapchat to Instagram and Youtube — you name the social media platform, the city of Las Vegas has an account.

Las Vegas, like many local governments across the country, has tapped into the constituent connection potential of social media.

In the time since city staff starting using social media, they’ve gone from “rank amateurs in this to being an organization people seek out to get advice from on what they should do,” City Communications Director David Riggleman said.

The social media focus for Las Vegas started ramping up around 2013, and Jennifer Davies on the city’s public affairs team leads those efforts.

“We respond to everybody,” Davies said. “Good, bad and in between.”

City staff have been asked to speak at conferences, and representatives from Orange County, California, have reached out recently to get social media advice, Riggleman said.

A diverse range of content and a conversational tone is one of the things Davies said she thinks sets the city apart.

On any given day, if you follow the city on Twitter, you might get information on an active shooter drill, learn that it’s “National French Toast Day” and get a tidbit like the number of marriage licenses that are issued in southern Nevada daily.

“I think our responsiveness and our constant content we’re putting out is important,” Davies said. “A lot of governments only monitor social from 8 to 5 when they’re in the office, so it can be a lot to do it on nights and weekends and keep it going 365 days a year, but we do.”


Davies is largely dedicated to maintaining the city’s social media presence, but two other employees on the seven-person public affairs team pitch in on maintaining social media part time, and another two have some level of involvement with the city’s social media.

“We’re not like one of the major cities that has a larger budget, but we’re not really trying to skimp either,” Riggleman said.

The city had more than 138,500 Twitter followers, more than 31,000 Instagram followers and has been “liked” by more than 51,000 people on Facebook as of Friday afternoon. The number of connections, and how many people the city’s social media posts are reaching, are two of the ways to gauge its success in communicating with the public, Davies said.

The “lightbulb” moment for Riggleman was when people alerted the city through social media that the turnout for a community meeting about noise in the Fremont East Entertainment District was expected to reach 300.

“We had no idea except for the people who were on social at that time… and I thought, ‘We need to be part of this conversation,’” Riggleman said.

The city puts out a steady stream of photos, video, GIFs and quips, and has taken a more conversational tone over time.

A GIF, or graphic interchange format, is a brief moving image, often in a loop, that’s used to express something in a matter of seconds. That’s one of the things the city gets a lot of compliments on in its social media presence, Davies said.

Ultimately, they look at data and the level of engagement to see what’s working and what isn’t. The “highest-performing” content the city puts out on social media tends to be putting a Las Vegas spin on something, Davies said.

The city’s most popular Tweet to date featured a photo of City Hall lit up red, white and blue following the terrorist attack in Nice, France, in July. Before that, it was a Tweet about flags being lowered to half-staff when former UNLV basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian died, Davies said.

The city’s communications staff also works with Mayor Carolyn Goodman on her Twitter account, Riggleman said.

It’s Goodman’s message, but someone else is physically putting out the Tweets, Riggleman said.

Over the past year, the tweets from Goodman’s accounts have documented a congratulatory statement to Las Vegas native and Chicago Cub Kris Bryant on the World Series win, a birthday visit to her office by a pair of Chippendales, responses to attacks in Brussels and Orlando and a CNN appearance during the Nevada caucuses.


Other larger cities maintain Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts, but their tones and strategies vary a bit. Las Vegas seems to have a more conversational tone and peppers in more light-hearted content, like cartoon character Homer Simpson eating brownies on “National Brownie Day.”

“Everyone asks us who we want to embody, and now I think we want to blaze our own trail and find what works for us,” Davies said. “And show people that government doesn’t have to be boring and uninteresting. We’re trying to bring a little fun to all the stuff that goes on around the city.”

All of these efforts are aimed at communicating with people where they’re already interacting, rather than expecting them to “conform” to the city, like speaking during a public comment session at a council meeting.

It’s a long way off, but Riggleman is interested in the city exploring a way to allow citizens to be more engaged in City Council meetings digitally. The meetings are held during the day on Wednesdays, and in order to voice something to the council at their meeting, they need to be there.

“We’d like to be on the front end of making that happen,” Riggleman said.

Contact Jamie Munks at jmunks@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0340. Follow @JamieMunksRJ on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Politics Videos
Media's Double Standard On Incitement And Trump - Video
Over the weekend, an Elizabeth Warren-supporting socialist who opposed gun violence used a rifle to commit a mass murder in Dayton, Ohio. The media has downplayed that aspect of the tragedy.
Project Our Care Tour Kicks Off In Las Vegas
U.S. Rep. Dina Titus joined health care advocates and local residents as part of Protect Our Care’s nationwide bus tour kick off in Las Vegas on Monday, August 5, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Bernie Sanders talks about guns, response to El Paso shooting
Sen. Bernie Sanders spoke about his response and continued policy ideas about guns and gun control to the Review-Journal after a panel of other topics. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pete Buttigieg On Gun Control And Climate Change - Video
Pete Buttigieg talks about his campaign for the 2020 election and how Nevada is a vision of what the future can be.
Beto O'Rourke speaks in Las Vegas
Presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke spoke to supporters at the East Las Vegas Community Center in Las Vegas, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2019. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Former Nevada Senate leader Kelvin Atkinson sentenced to prison
Former Nevada Senate Majority Leader Kelvin Atkinson, who pleaded guilty to misusing campaign funds, was sentenced to 27 months in prison on Thursday, July 18, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Trumps Strength is also a Weakness - Video
One of Donald Trump’s greatest strengths — his ability to shape national narratives — is also a great weakness.
Tax the Rich Bus Tour makes a stop in Las Vegas - Video
The Tax the Rich Bus has stopped in Las Vegas as part of its summer tour. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Assemblywoman Daniele Monroe-Moreno hosts BBQ - Video
Assembly Woman Daniele Monroe-Moreno hosts BBQ to bring the community together to hear about the candidates up for election and for people to gather and have fun.
Democrat Virtual Caucus - Video
Elizabeth Warren visits Las Vegas
Senator Elizabeth Warren made a campaign stop at the East Las Vegas Community Center on Tuesday July 2, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Aaron Ford Speaks About Bill AB431
AB431 is a bill sponsored by Nevada Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson to restore the right to vote for formerly incarcerated individuals. Attorney General Aaron Ford spoke at the AM&E Church in North Las Vegas about the bill, on Monday, July 1, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Right Take: Biden's Racially Questionable Comments
Joe Biden has uttered racially charged statements for years. Now that he’s the frontrunner for the Democrat presidential nomination, he may finally face prolonged scrutiny for them.
Christopher Rufo Discusses Homelessness In The USA - VIDEO
Christopher Rufo discusses homelessness in the United States and how politicians can work to improve conditions for those with drug addictions.
Clark County 2019 Election Results - Video
The 2019 Elections wrap up in Clark County including an upset in the Boulder City Mayor race.
Olivia Diaz talks about her win in Ward 3 - VIDEO
Las Vegas City Councilwoman-elect Olivia Diaz talks about her election win in Ward 3 and what lies ahead for her.
Greene discusses Read by 3 and Opportunity Scholarships - VIDEO
The Nevada Legislative Session is over and the results are mixed for Nevada students, according to Tom Greene, Senior regional legislative director, Excel in Ed in Action.
Bernie Sanders visits Las Vegas
Sen. Bernie Sanders made a stop at Roy W. Martin middle school on Thursday, during his campaign trail.