Are you a local government skeptical about using social media? If you are then you are certainly not alone! According to the Fels Institute of Government's study called Making the Most of Social Media: 7 Lessons from Successful Cities, not all cities are using the same technologies and not all cities are relatively quick to adopt new technologies, some have avoided social media out of skepticism about their usefulness, hassle of management, legal concerns, or potential for political embarrassment.

The Fels report goes on to point out that their findings show that social media command a large and fast-growing audience. Half of American adults have used at least one of these services, up from just eight percent four years ago. The majority of adult users are more than 35-years-old. Social media applications are not mainstream.

Local governments' reaction to this expansion has been mixed. Some have made these services a central part of their communications strategies with the public and press. Many others are ambivalent or concerned that social media is a distraction that they may nonetheless be asked to do something clever with.

One of Fels' observations is social media provides new and promising ways for governments to communicate the value they provide their constituents and in some cases they offer cities a way to create additional value by providing more targeted, useful information and opportunities for additional discussion. For the full study, visit fels.upenn.edu. Call Aimee Ingalls at 309-663-8306 or email aingalls@illinois.edu.