Fort Worth City Council social media usage

Yesterday, I looked at which city council members had a Twitter account.  Only three did: Mayor Betsy Price and Council Representatives Kathleen Hicks (District 8) and Joel Burns (District 9). Jungus Jordan’s name is registered as a Twitter username, however, the account has no tweets, followers or follows anyone else.

By the numbers (as of 12/20/11, 10:56pm):

  • Betsy Price: 473 Tweets, following 995 accounts, followed by 1005 accounts; most tweets link to her official Facebook page that publishes pictures and stories of her recent engagements.
  • Kathleen Hicks: 3,994 Tweets, following 1,425 accounts and is followed by 896 accounts; Kathleen tweets, retweets and replies.
  • Joel Burns: 1,590 tweets,  following 2,920 accounts, followed by 5,329 accounts; tweets reflect personal and council rep duties.

What about the rest of Fort Worth City Council?

Danny Scarth

  • Website is well designed, specifically for campaigning. What interesting is the use of the Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 Creative Commons license.  This means, anyone can repost content from his site so long as they attribute it and repost as is.
  • The site links to a Flickr account that hasn’t been updated in over 4 years.

Sal Espino

Zim Zimmerman

  • Decent looking website, strictly for campaigning; not very interactive.
  • Notable: There’s a news page that copies letters to the editor from the Star Telegram and Fort Worth Business Press. I wonder if his campaign received permission to do this.

Frank Moss

  • There are lots of Frank Mosses in the world.  I could only find the Councilman’s Facebook page, which appears to not have been updated in some time.

Jungus Jordan

Dennis Shingleton

  • Similar to Frank Moss’s presence, limited to a campaign Facebook page.

Kathleen Hicks

  • Very active on Twitter.
  • Has a web presence, however, not very findable; the site could use a design refresh and some search engine tweaks for findability.
  • Has a Flickr account for photos.

Joel Burns

  • Very active on Twitter.
  • Has a clean website.


All media use has a cost in time, effort and attention to create that media (even 140 character tweets). I’m going to err on the side of optimism and hope that each council rep is using their time appropriately, and also recognize they commit to events, meetings, phone calls and emails social media does not make public.

Price, Hicks and Burns seem to have figured out a balance to stay engaged with constituents and remain active in their personal and professional duties while using social media.  I feel like they get modern, 21st century civic engagement and thus have gained my trust and respect.  And when used well, use of social media can do that to create effective civic outcomes.

The Point

Fort Worth is attempting to brand itself as a more modern city, engaged and aware of its citizens’ needs.  Per the SteerFW event:

Employment Oportunities

Goal: Create strong preception and brand for the city that will stimulate emerging entrepreneurial businesses — such as tech, health care, green and research industries — to grow into large employers for our city.

Urban Development

Goal: Encourage development that includes sustainability standards that encompass a balance/focus on environmental, economic and social consciousness for all local communities.

It’s unfair to use a council rep’s adoption of Twitter as a metric for modern, connected civic engagement. They do good work. That should be appreciated. But the above two points rely on doing things differently and becoming connected in a different way that’s more agile, adaptable and astute.