Posted Friday, June 1, 2012 by Team Northwoods

Yes Your Agency CAN Use Social Media

Just in case you missed it on Twitter, over 1 billion people use social media around the world, according to a recent report of the International Telecommunication Union.

Clearly, social media is here to stay. But how can government agencies use it? We’ve combed through numerous ideas and examples from human services agencies and boiled them down to these creative and replicable ideas. We’ve also listed how Northwoods uses each social media network. Enjoy!


Blogs are typically the hub of an organization’s communication network because posts can be shared using a variety of other communication tools such as Facebook, Twitter, and newsletters. Members of the media may even use posts as part of their mainstream stories.

Florida – My Florida Families Blog

Florida's Department of Children and Families (DCF) is using its new “My Florida Families” blog to allow foster and adoptive families, domestic violence survivors, and others to tell their own stories. The launch of the blog generated media coverage of the issue, and promoted Florida DCF’s complete social media presence on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Pinterest.

Northwoods – Our Blog

The Northwoods blog sometimes features our products (naturally), but also highlights topics of interest to our customers. This post full of ideas to help agencies use social media is a prime example.


This is one of the best social media tools for human services agencies, in our opinion. It’s all about people and connection, which are the hallmarks of human services delivery.

Stark County, Ohio – Wear Blue to Work Day

Using its SCJFS Facebook Page, the Stark County Department of Job and Family Services posts safety information, job opportunities, and promotes causes important to its clients. For instance, the agency posted 52 photos from Ohio Wears Blue to Work day in April to promote child abuse prevention. The agency also invited other Ohio business to share their photos to engage a lot of people in the issue.

Northwoods – Food Stamp Challenge

On The Team Northwoods Facebook page, we highlight topics that our customers care about. For example, when two Northwoodians took the Ohio Community Action Food Stamp Challenge to live on a $23 food budget for five days, we posted photos of their shopping lists and prepared lunches to help raise awareness of the challenges food stamp recipients, and the agencies that serve them, face every day.


Despite being the new kid on the social media block, Pinterest is already the third most used social media network behind Facebook and Twitter, according to a recent report by Experian. The ways to use Pinterest are seemingly endless, (check out these very thorough general Pinterest tips), but we’re particularly excited about the innovative agency example below.

Clark County – Kids Books and More

Family and Children’s Services of Clark County has a great approach to its Pinterest boards. They focus on all joyful things associated with raising kids, such as crafts, books, costumes, cakes, and snacks. With the goal to “build strong families,” Clark County’s Pinterest ideas can help foster parents be more than legal guardians. It can help them be active and engaged parents.

Northwoods – Our Community

We are new to Pinterest, but our Pinterest boards allow us to visually show what Northwoods is all about. Our pins range from a photo of "Northwoodians Wearing Blue to Work" for child abuse prevention to a video tour of Compass CoPilot™ (shameless plug), our latest software.


Of all the social media vehicles, Twitter provides the fastest and easiest way to share information, in 140 characters or less, of course.

Montgomery County, Ohio — @JFSStevens

The Public Information Coordinator for Montgomery County Ohio Department of Job & Family Services uses Twitter (@JFSStevens) to share events and resources with clients, press releases, job statistics, contests, photos, and more. It’s a one-stop-shop for agency news and tools.

Northwoods – @TeamNorthwoods

Twitter (@TeamNorthwoods) allows us to share everything – industry and product news, upcoming conferences, blog posts (like this one!), employee hires and achievements. More importantly, Twitter allows us to listen and connect. We follow our customers, groups (@nasw, @USDANutrition, @ChildDefender) and hashtags (#socialwork, #fostercare, #SNAP) that have a wealth of information to help Northwoods understand and serve our customers even better.


LinkedIn is much more than its stereotype as a recruiting website only. Agencies can post updates, similar to Facebook status updates, on new resources or news, or start discussions with followers.

Louisiana – Emergency Preparedness Resources

The Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services uses its LinkedIn profile to promote the importance of emergency preparedness by highlighting, which provides weather and emergency alerts. From the site, visitors can also access Louisiana emergency preparedness information and resources via Twitter (@GOHSEP) and Facebook (

Northwoods – Our Business-y Side

You’ll see the most about our products and services on LinkedIn versus other social media networks since LinkedIn IS designed for business connections. However, we also engage other business issues. For example, on Earth Day we invited other companies to take an Earth Day Pledge to reduce their use of paper.


Is your agency using social media to engage clients or share news? Please tell us how by commenting on this blog, tweeting us at @TeamNorthwoods, posting to our Facebook timeline…