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Updated by Government Social Media on Aug 01, 2017
Headline for Government Use of Humor on Social Media
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Government Use of Humor on Social Media

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City of Roanoke Virginia - Star World Tour

City of Roanoke Virginia - Star World Tour

On April 1, 2014, Roanoke's Office of Communications chose the city's most popular feature to prank citizens. That morning, the city announced that its famous Star on top of Mill Mountain was going on a world tour. Posts to Facebook included images of the Star in various locations around the world. Posts later in the day included fake national news stories about the Star leaving Roanoke. The goals were to generate buzz, get media attention, and attract more people to the city's main Facebook page. The results could not have been any better. Various posts were viewed by thousands of users, comments poured in, media outlets covered the prank on evening newscasts, and the city's overall 'like' count on Facebook got even higher.

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Dunwoody PD - Memorial Day Humor

Dunwoody PD - Memorial Day Humor

The Dunwoody Police Department tries to use appropriate humor with their social media posts. There is a skill in doing this effectively. You have to be cautious you don't cross the line but still take risks. One post in particular really grabbed the communities attention. A couple of really funny calls call in on memorial day. One caller wanted the police to come out and deal with a daughter who refused to go to school. The problem was school was already out for the summer. The second caller was complaining about a strong odor of BBQ coming from the apartment next door.

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Lakeland PD DUI Campaign

Lakeland PD DUI Campaign

Obviously DUI is not a funny topic. But to draw attention to awareness we created holiday ads that injected a little humor. We had great success with other agencies and pages sharing the posts. One of the goals we have worked hard on this year is humanizing our officers in ads and publications.

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City of Bryan Texas Fire Dept - Live Elf

City of Bryan Texas Fire Dept - Live Elf

Imagine if the fabled Elf on a Shelf came to life and the mischief he could cause around town. It started as a joke when the late Lt. Eric Wallace mentioned that a rookie had a strong resemblance to the Elf on a Shelf character. Later, a wife of another fire fighter made an Elf on a Shelf costume and the rookie wore it throughout the holiday season. In it's third year, the tradition continues that a rookie will wear the Elf costume all holiday season and be spotted around town. This has been a fun way to honor Lt. Wallace and gain community attention on all that the Fire Department does. The story of this social media campaign spread from Bryan, Texas all over the US. The day of the Kyle Field implosion, the post had a reach of over 12,000, with over 1,900 post clicks and 506 comments/likes. This campaign lasted from 12/1/14 - 12/25/14 and the Bryan FD Facebook page gained almost 900 followers during that time. This campaign has picked up momentum and we understand other Fire Departments are now creating their own Rookie Elf.

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Howard County Fire and Rescue Funny Tweets

Howard County Fire and Rescue Funny Tweets

Often we pull from trending topics in order to spread awareness of safety messages. This tactic keeps our followers engaged and coming back for more. These particular tweets harnessed humorous tones and received amazing feedback. Tweet 1: Mike Tomlin is the Pittsburgh Steeler's head coach. During an important game against our beloved Baltimore Ravens, Tomlin 'accidentally' stepped onto the field during a kickoff return getting in the way of Jacoby Jones. Tweet 2: The announcement of the new Ghostbusters movie was trending and we took that opportunity to have some fun. Tweet 3: Jimmy Fallon's reuniting of the Saved By the Bell crew was all that was talked about one day on social media so we used it to our advantage. While protecting and serving the community is serious business, having fun while doing so makes it even more special.

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Ada County Paramedics Meme

Ada County Paramedics Meme

Temperatures in Idaho vary drastically from winter to summer. Here, we created a 'meme' of our headquarter's sign depicting temperatures first around the 4th of July, and then closer to Christmas. Not only does this meme showcase our agency and logo-- but it's light hearted and humorous. By tweeting this meme were then retweeted 31 times and favorited 16 times.

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Atlantic County Utilities Authority - Halloween Recycling Campaign

Atlantic County Utilities Authority - Halloween Recycling Campaign

One of our most important and ongoing objectives is to remind our audience to recycle. Because Halloween was approaching, we decided to tie in the holiday through these humorous posts. The posts were popular on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts and garnered many likes, shares and retweets. They were one of the favorites of 2014, and even captured the attention of the national Keep America Beautiful organization and its America Recycles Day social media pages.

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Town of Summerville Earthquakes

Town of Summerville Earthquakes

The Town of Summerville has nearly a dozen earthquakes per year making it difficult to keep the attention of the public about yet another post about earthquakes. The attached screenshot of a post from October 30th had everyone laughing, even the Mayor.

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Hillsborough County - Big Foot Big Fun

Hillsborough County - Big Foot Big Fun

Hillsborough County received a media request for 'Big Foot sightings' in a local park. We decided to have fun with it and purchased a Big Foot costume and went on a photo shoot around the County. We took pictures of 'Big Foot sightings' in local parks, at Starbucks, at a lunchtime event and on rides at the Florida State Fair to promote 'Big Fun' in our County. We then tweeted out the photos while tagging local news stations, and received a request from a local TV station to interview Big Foot. We also tied one of the tweets in with the trending 'Boston Yeti.'

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City of Austin Texas Tweets

City of Austin Texas Tweets

The City of Austin tries to inform and engage its citizens by using humor in its tweets. We especially love making puns out of council items and inserting pop culture references in order to get people engaged in and excited about local government. These tweets tend to get a lot more retweets, so more citizens are able to see what is going on in the city. The result: almost 85,000 engagements, including 7,500 retweets and 4,000 favorites, just in the past year.

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City of Staunton Parks & Recreation - Open Duck Swim

City of Staunton Parks & Recreation - Open Duck Swim

We happened to be over at our newly renovated pool one morning and saw a single duck enjoying the water. Snapped this image in order to advertise the pool opening for the summer in one month. The ironic thing is we have an actual duck pond, full of fowl, about 100 yards from this pool. This smart duck prefers less populated, cleaner, chlorinated water.

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Provo City Utah - See Why Mayor Curtis Was Late to the State of the City Address

Provo City Utah - See Why Mayor Curtis Was Late to the State of the City Address

This video was creative, funny and captures the attention of the audience.

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Arizona Dept of Transportation Sasquatch

Arizona Dept of Transportation Sasquatch

ADOT has been known as an extremely engaging and (when appropriate) funny department to follow on social media, especially on twitter. You're always in the know around the state, and more than just describing what's going on, they usually show you, too. That was the case at the beginning of the year, when ADOT posted on Facebook and Twitter that 'We might have spotted a family of sasquatches on SR 260 near Heber this afternoon.' That set off a positive firestorm of publicity, with the national news getting in on it, too. To follow up with the post, they also wrote on the department's blog after having thousands of new followers, to tell the story about what the department is passionate about. AZDOT did amazing work by not only catching the country's eyeballs for a moment in time, but then using it as an educational tool. Bravo.

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Provo City Utah - Provorem - An April Fools Prank

Provo City Utah - Provorem - An April Fools Prank

The City of Provo planned a fun April fools prank to play on our residents and city council. On April 1, 2014, Provo Mayor John Curtis released a blog post announcing the annexation of Orem (a surrounding city) into Provo and rezoning Orem to agriculture. The announcement was also released on Provo City's Facebook and Twitter accounts. Naming the new city "Provorem", the blog post describes why combining of the two cities makes all the sense in the world. Politically the newly formed Provorem would justify getting additional funding by eclipsing Salt Lake as the State's largest city. ""We will have more representation and louder voice. It's even anticipated that we start the discussion of moving our State Capitol to State Street where University Mall is currently located!" We sketched up a rendering showing what Provorem would look like as the new state capitol and included a map of the new boundary lines along with a new city logo. Residents could tune into Provo City's Channel 17 that evening to hear the administration's plans for the major annexation into the city during the city council meeting. Even Orem Mayor Richard Brunst (in a video) shared his feelings about the annexation! Unfortunately the Council decided to table the proposal of combining Provo and Orem. Back to the drawing board. The April Fools prank was a hit with the residents and everyone loved the humorous post. We received hundreds of likes, hundreds of comments, and hundreds of shares on Facebook and Twitter. The Facebook posts reached over 40,000 people and the blog post received 9,250 unique views! It was the Mayor's #2 most read blog post for the year!

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Funny how? Using Humor to Engage in Howard County

Funny how? Using Humor to Engage in Howard County

As a public safety agency we work hard to build trust and credibility through our social media platforms. Often we pull from trending topics in order to spread awareness of safety messages. This tactic keeps our followers engaged and coming back for more. Because humor does not always translate online, we are always mindful of walking a fine line with comical posts. These particular tweets harnessed humorous tones and received amazing feedback. While protecting and serving the community is serious business, having fun while doing so makes it even more special.

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Palo Alto PD - Super Bowl Public Service Announcement - Tire Inflation

Palo Alto PD - Super Bowl Public Service Announcement - Tire Inflation

This idea came to me about a week before the Super Bowl. I wanted to capitalize on the "Deflate Gate" storyline being discussed nationwide, and I knew that if I crafted the tweet appropriately, it had a high potential for a wide audience. I intentionally kept the wording as a neutral "public service announcement"-type tone, left out #DeflateGate so as not to be perceived as "taking sides" in the game, and figured the humor would speak for itself. It did, and was widely retweeted and favorited, and may have spurred a number of similar tweets and photos from other agencies in the following 24 hours.

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City of Bryan Texas - Sriracha Selfie

City of Bryan Texas - Sriracha Selfie

Sriracha/Huy Fong Foods was exploring the idea of moving to Texas and meeting with representatives from Dallas and San Antonio. During this time, we decided to play up our small town and bring attention to our local economy by jumping into the conversation. This put a spotlight on Bryan which has been a fast-growing community in the heart of Texas. It was the beginning of our Bigger in Texas/Better in Bryan campaign.

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City of Lenexa Kansas - Cattle Roundup

City of Lenexa Kansas - Cattle Roundup

In the wake of tensions surrounding police departments nationwide, the City of Lenexa had the opportunity to shed some humor on an unconventional job duty of one of our police officers. Lenexa, Kansas is a suburb of Kansas City and is rarely considered rural. So, when five cows got loose on a major interstate highway and our traffic cameras caught it on video, we took the opportunity to show the lighter side of police work. We added a 'cowboy' soundtrack to the video to enhance the entertainment value and posted it to our social media accounts. We hoped the video would get a laugh or two from our residents. What happened next was incredible. Within two hours, the video reached more than 25,000 people, and within 8 hours, more than 1 million. It was the city's first true viral video. In fact, Kansas City news station FOX 4 reported on the video, mentioning that our cattle roundup video was the most viewed video posted by a governmental organization that week on Facebook. 'It bested videos from NASA, USPS and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources' the news story said. In total, the video has been seen more than 7 million times, and continues to be shared to this day. While the first days were exciting to see, it's the effect that the video had on our ability to reach our citizens that is even more exciting. Our Facebook likes grew exponentially, and our reach has continued strong. Prior to the video, we had an average reach of about 3,500 per week. Now, our reach stays in the 35,000-40,000 range per week.

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Fargo PD - Coffee and Doughnuts. No judging zone!

Fargo PD - Coffee and Doughnuts. No judging zone!

This photo was taken for the purpose of a humorous post--playing on the long running jokes in reference to doughnuts, coffee and police officers.

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City of Burien Parks & Recreation Beached Whale Removal

City of Burien Parks & Recreation Beached Whale Removal

In April 2013, the City of Burien Parks Dept had to address the challenge of a very large and very dead whale that had washed up on the beach of one of its parks. Given the history of such beaching events not going so well (e.g. Oregon's famous case in the '70s of the exploding whale), the City took the matter very seriously. The incident was widely reported in local and national media, with large crowds of people visiting the park to view the whale. In the midst of solving the challenge, the Dept took to its Twitter account to use some humor to update the public about one proposed removal method. The whale was eventually and successfully removed by other means.

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Palo Alto PD - Apparently Pigs *Can* Fly

Palo Alto PD - Apparently Pigs *Can* Fly

This picture was taken in August 2014 during a street fair in Palo Alto, California. It was a catchy, eye-grabbing image, and I kept the caption nice and simple. While some police agencies might not be comfortable poking fun at stereotypes, we have repeatedly done it over the years (always at our own expense) to great success within our community. We define our voice and tone on social media as, "Always professional, but human and humorous whenever possible." If we demonstrate that we have a sense of humor and laugh at ourselves from time to time, we feel that makes us more approachable and relatable to our residents. Posts like these are always well-received and outperform many of our other posts.

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City of Goleta California - Horrible Winter

City of Goleta California - Horrible Winter

The strategy was to have a little fun with the horrible weather hitting across the country (while it was 75 degrees in Goleta).

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City of Goleta California - Missing Our Birthday

City of Goleta California - Missing Our Birthday

Facebook always reminds of us of everyone's birthday. But when the City turned into a teenager (13), Facebook didn't alert the world. We wanted to poke fun at it.

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City of Santa Clarita California - Humor to Spread Emergency Awareness

City of Santa Clarita California - Humor to Spread Emergency Awareness

The City of Santa Clarita sought a way to share helpful holiday safety tips that would resonate with residents, without sounding bossy. Using humorous gifs from classic holiday films (like Christmas Vacation and Home Alone), the City was able to spread the word about preventing burglaries and house fires - while also spreading a little holiday cheer.

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City of West Hollywood's Pedestrian Safety Social Media Campaign

City of West Hollywood's Pedestrian Safety Social Media Campaign

The City of West Hollywood launched a social media campaign in October 2014 aimed at encouraging drivers and pedestrians to pay more attention to crosswalks and to devote less time to digital distractions, such as text messages, emails, and social media. The campaign includes a humorous music video as a Public Service Announcement (PSA), which was released on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4OCPSYRfT6o. The video, Alice in WeHoLand, was produced by the City's Public Information Division and conceived by YouTube sensation Todrick Hall, a singer, actor, director, choreographer, and dancer who rose to the semi-finals of American Idol in its ninth season. He received international acclaim for his creative role in the CLIO Award-winning safety video for Virgin America airlines and he has just signed a deal with MTV for a new unscripted series. His YouTube channel features his music-inspired projects and has a loyal following of devoted fans with more than 1.1-million subscribers. Alice in WeHoLand is a humorous West Hollywood-themed parody of Taylor Swift's hit song Shake It Off, which broke Billboard records by entering the Hot 100 chart at No. 1. The dance-filled video offers viewers a colorful twist on Alice's Adventures in Wonderland set to new crosswalk safety lyrics, written by Hall, about curbing smartphone use and walking and driving safely. The video features a vibrant cast of characters with drag queens, gym-bunnies, models, go-go boys, and fierce dancers who perform a pulsating choreographed routine in West Hollywood's iconic Rainbow Crosswalks, as well as other recognizable locations in the City. Alice in WeHoLand has received more than 570,000 media hits on YouTube and received positive media coverage in outlets such as the Los Angeles Times.