Indiana Chapter - American Planning Association

Following Planning

Posted on April 28th, by Jill Ewing in Uncategorized. No Comments

following planning

By: Mark McCormack, Southern Region Representative, APA Indiana Chapter

Some of the most popular and useful technologies that have developed over the past 10 years have been those related to social networking and marketing tools. More than ever, planners are using these types of tools for the purposes of:

  • Getting constituents involved with planning projects
  • Gauging community values and opinions
  • Advertising meetings
  • Providing summaries of community development decisions
  • Promoting training opportunities
  • Sharing news articles, historical content, blogs, and educational information to citizen planners and members of the general public.

Of all of the social networking sites, Facebook is easily the most popular—boasting an estimated 900,000,000 unique monthly visitors (according to eBizMBA)** and including 57 percent of all U.S. adults. Twitter and LinkedIn represent the next most popular networking sites. (More information about these sites can be found at the end of this post.) While the aforementioned volumes of users indicates that they are visited often, setting up social media sites with the hopes of attracting and engaging a broader audience (and therefore higher levels of public engagement) can be a bit tricky. Basic factors to keep in mind while establishing a social networking site include:

  • Determine who the target audience is.
  • Establish immediate and long-term goals for the site(s).
  • Keep the content as interesting as possible and update it regularly.
  • Use pictures often. They are often worth more than words.
  • Allow comments if you really want feedback—and regular users / site traffic.
  • Like or follow your partner groups, agencies, communities, etc. It helps to broaden your audience and keeps them informed of related news and efforts.

Currently, there does not seem to be a singular resource where one can reference planning-specific social networking sites within Indiana—to allow for others to examine and build upon model examples and to quickly find and share relevant information. Based on some preliminary research, there appears to be a limited sample when it comes to planning agency-specific sites, as opposed to community-level pages. Some of the prominent examples of planning groups / agencies where it is evident that they are actively utilizing social media pages within Indiana include: the City of Bloomington Planning Department, the City of Lebanon Planning & Zoning Department, the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission, the Dearborn County Plan Commission, the Indiana Planning Association, and the Indiana Association for Community Economic Development (IACED). There are also a number of good town and city / community social media pages that reference planning-related items and activities, but where the focus appears to be much broader.

A couple of questions to the reader(s) of this post:

  • What are some examples of good planning-related social media sites that you are familiar with?
  • What types of procedures or guidelines does your community or agency use as it relates to these types of sites?

The results of this feedback will be posted at a later date, along with any other questions, comments, or concerns.
**Source: eBizMBA (Updated April 1, 2014)
Nuggets nuggets
For those of you who would like a healthy dose of fun facts and statistics related to the aforementioned social networking sites, you may find the information below useful:


  • Is the most popular social networking service
  • 1.11 billion users, approx. 8-9% fake as of January, 2014
  • Founded in 2004
  • # 12 website, in terms of web traffic as of February 2014 (Alexa Internet)



  • Enables users to send and read short 140-character text messages, called “tweets”
  • 645,750,000
  • Founded in 2006
  • # 12 website, in terms of web traffic as of February 2014 (Alexa Internet)



  • Is a business-oriented social networking service
  • 277,000,000 users as of January, 2014
  • Founded in 2002, launched in 2003
  • # 10 website, in terms of web traffic as of February 2014 (Alexa Internet)


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