We’re deeply fortunate to have citizens and government who are tech- and social-media savvy. Did you know that USA Today named Columbia one of the most Technologically Advanced Communities (in 2006) and that we received designation as one of the top ten Most Digital County Governments in 2007?

This page is all about Howard County government, social media and community engagement. If you work in the Howard County government — any agency or department — this page was designed for you and your colleagues. Residents can benefit from the information here too.

Does your department have a blog?

You probably think your department doesn’t have “a blog.” But you probably do because what our technology and system needs is an RSS feed. Do you have a “Latest News” or section of your website with updates? Try listing that. It’s free to be listed on and takes but a few minutes to do. You can learn more about which blogs we list and why; read here.

Get to know the local bloggers

If there is a segment of our community that could most benefit from good blogger relationships, local government could be it. Understand how to prepare your content (news, events, announcements, video and more) so that bloggers can blog more easily and readily about your activities. Read this and this to cover your bases. Attend our local parties if you have a chance. And read some of the politics blogs found on

Use Twitter and hashtags with intent

Twitter is arguably the most effective and powerful tool for local communications, particularly emergency communications. Regardless of citizens’ interest in local school boards, zoning changes or elections, when a large storm comes through, most everyone becomes attentive to their micro-local environment, safety and the larger community and municipal infrastructure (read: government). Getting government departments using — and citizens receiving — information via Twitter in non-emergency times is the best way for everyone to be prepped during emergencies. For some insight and perspective into this subject, you may wish to read this blog post on #HoCoSandy, Twitter and Local Hashtags. And —

  • Get to know your HoCo hashtags. Here’s a robust list. And follow@HoCoBlogs to see an active use of local hashtags.
  • Check out HoCo on RebelMouse to see how local tweets automatically publish on this site.
  • Use local hashtags in your tweets. In particular –
    • #HoCoEvents (for any and all events in Howard County)
    • #HoCoMd#ColumbiaMd#EllicottCity#OaklandMills, etc. (to indicate place in your tweets)
    • #HoCoGov, #HoCoRecycles, #HoCoHealth
    • #HoCoParents, #HoCoKids, #HoCoSeniors (for demographically focused tweets)
    • #HoCoFire, #HoCoPolice, #HoCo911, #HoCoFYI and more
Are you following these Twitter lists?

Twitter lists organize the tweets of a select group of Twitter accounts. You can follow these lists on Twitter, Hootsuite or Tweetdeck to keep an eye on what’s being tweeted. Take a look at these lists. Is your department head or group listed? Any key staff we need to include?

Do you follow this Tumblr account?

Great wrap-up with minor commentary of local news on this Tumblr site, HoCoLOCO. Are you following them?


Are you actively managing your Foursquare site location, including adding tips and watching to see who “your mayor” is? What about lists of buildings and locations connected to your department’s purview?

Are all your social sites listed?

Take a look at this spreadsheet of HoCoGov agencies, departments, offices, bureaus and divisions. Are your social sites listed? Did we get them all? Send suggestions to us if we missed any?

For citizens

The Twitter lists and hashtags above can provide great insight into local government activities and news. As well, the local blog scene found on HoCoBlogs is an interesting way to see into what’s going on in the community. Many HoCoGov agencies have social accounts you may want to follow. Tune in.

Share your news!

Read this page for more tips and help on how to share your news with Howard County bloggers and social media activists and enthusiasts.