February 26 2013

Social Media and The City: The Do’s and Don’ts of Involving People

It’s no secret that in order to attract investors, companies, and tourists, cities are under increasing pressure to stand out. More and more cities make use of social media to create a positive image and strengthen their place in the global competition of attractive cities.

Imagine, you are in charge of your city’s social media channel: what kind of image would you want to portray? Who is your target audience and what is the message you want to tell them? How do you stand out?

A few years ago, I found myself in exactly that position. As an intern for the image campaign of Berlin, I was offered the chance to run the Facebook Page for Berlin. I knew that an initial group of 60,000 fans would potentially read what I wrote. Looking at the page’s statistics, I knew that I was dealing with a group that included a wide range of ages and nationalities. Since Facebook in Germany was still a relatively new phenomenon and there existed only few references on social media marketing, I had to learn as I went along.

Facebook Page of Berlin

Here is what I learned concerning the “do’s” and “don’ts” of a city’s presence on Facebook:


  • Use a lot of pictures as well as short and entertaining text;
  • Speak both to citizens and tourists. While people who have visited Berlin once and might want to come back are an important target group, you should not forget to speak to locals;
  • Use filters to target a certain group directly;
  • Engage your target group with questions and little games;
  • And think of the Facebook page as a collective love letter to your city.


  • Only try to sell the city’s campaign. Sell the city itself;
  • Overload your readers with too much text;
  • Forget the locals. Involve them as much as possible and they will become ambassadors for your city;
  • Take political sides to urban development. There are other pages for that.

What do you think is a good way to involve people with a city’s presence via Social Media Marketing?

Credits: Images and data linked to sources.

Luise Letzner

Originally from Berlin, Luise Letzner currently pursues a Masters at HafenCity University in Hamburg, Germany, in Urban Planning. She also holds a B.A. in European Studies from Malmö University, Sweden, where she focused on inner-city redevelopment projects, place branding, and the concept of urbanity. She worked as a concept strategist and social media manager for several online agencies and in trend research, where she investigated new forms of communication via mobile and online technology, as well as trends within city marketing. Apart from Sweden, she has lived in France, Switzerland, and the U.S. and is fascinated by different approaches to the creation and use of public spaces within city centres. For The GRID, she investigated current urban and environmental design projects in Berlin and Hamburg.

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, February 26th, 2013 at 9:42 am and is filed under Branding, Community/Economic Development, Internet Marketing, Urban Planning and Design. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


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