Government organizations have embraced the tremendous benefits of social media for sharing content and connecting with their communities – municipalities are tweeting emergency information during crises and politicians are accumulating likes on Facebook.

However, only some government bodies are taking a step back from the active use of social media as an outbound tool, and beginning to listen.

Social media monitoring is still fairly new territory for government  and one that has become absolutely necessary to understanding the communities and constituencies they serve .

Here are six ways government organizations can leverage social listening to learn more about their communities and better respond during crises and emergencies.

Find out What Your Constituents Really Think

Do you really know how your communities feel about your programs? If you’re not listening to social media, you’re missing out on tons of conversations happening about your government agency and more. Implement a social listening platform to seek out these conversations, and with the right platform you can even measure the sentiment around your programs and campaigns. Social media monitoring can also provide more raw, unfiltered feedback to give government organizations a more realistic look at how their programs are affecting their communities.

Stay on Top of Hot Button Topics and Trends

Listening to keywords around topics such as the economy and healthcare can provide government agencies with information around constituent’s topics of interest or concerns.

Reach Out to Your Public at Their Point of Need

Find out where your community “lives” on the social web, and take your messaging there. Engage with your public at their point of need – don’t robotically push your message – listen and find out what the conversation is about, and join in with relevant and helpful information.

Track and Analyze Your Campaigns

Gain valuable information around the sentiment and reach of your campaigns and programs with a social listening platform.

Help Constituents Navigate Through the Bureaucracy

Help people find the right agencies and offices. By monitoring your social media channels and keywords around your government agency, you can quickly find and assist people in need by directing them to the right agency.

Provide Real Time Communication During Crises

Many Government organizations have taken to social media listening to monitor and manage their own reputation, as well as listen in times of crisis and disaster to help communicate information and assist those in need.

Clark Regional Emergency Services Agency in Vancouver monitored social media during the 2009 swine flu outbreak to help control the situation. As citizens tweeted their concerns about the vaccine’s validity and availability, city managers were able to make correct information available.