Maximizing Citizen Engagement Through Digital Communication

“There’s an app for that!”

It’s not just a fun catchphrase anymore, there are over 2 million apps available download for most phones! However, the average smartphone user holds nearly 80 apps on their phone while only using about 40 per month.  Simply put, people whittle down countless apps to a few dozen in which they actively use.

More and more governments are deploying mobile apps. So, how do you get eyes on your app and ensure that citizens are aware it exists? And how can you actively engage the public to maximize the mutual benefits offered through your app?  In today’s digital world, the answer is as simple as undertaking a simple digital communications campaign to educate the public.

Social Media

The most effective way to digitally promote your app is through any social media platform in which your local government agency participates. More and more citizens turn to the likes of Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn for news and information while more and more governments deploy these technologies for outreach purposes.  Local governments and their departments would be wise to leverage that viewership to promote their apps.

For example, a city may turn to Twitter to provide real-time updates about ongoing emergency response measures during a winter snowstorm. However, a more effective and strategic choice would be to parlay those messages with a plug about the Town’s 311 App.  This will provide vital information to the citizens while getting important and necessary feedback from them regarding downed power lines, fallen trees or icy bridges.

Similarly, county and local officials may turn to LinkedIn or Facebook to promote upcoming job training and employment events within the community.  However, the most efficient leaders will couple this important message with a reminder of public transportation apps that can be used during these events.

Also, there is never any harm in randomly promoting your apps through these mediums if it’s been a while since the app has been highlighted.  We recommend a notice at least once every 90 days. These types of public messages can be effective, even if not directly connected to any other posts, tweets or comments.


One of the next most obvious and overlooked places to promote your app can be on your agency’s website.  The homepage can highlight the city’s app in general while department pages can dive into specific features that may be of interest to residents.

For example, all visitors to a municipality’s general homepage are likely residents or business owners in town. Therefore, if the app offers the ability to pay water bills, discussing that feature of the app in detail may be beneficial.

Similarly, individuals who dive into the recreation department’s page may be more interested in a the sports league scheduling feature of the app; taking this one step further, you could place an app download prompt message after someone has completed the registration funnel, thus ensuring that person is someone targeted who’s already demonstrated interest purchasing and using your Parks & Rec services  

Another example, includes people who visit the webpage for public works might be looking to complain about a pothole, missed garbage pick-up or a flooded street.  A town that strategically places an ad for the complaint feature of the city’s app atop the public works page will earn the citizens buy-in and gain important information in an effective manner. We’ve listed lots of options, and you probably wouldn’t deploy every option but perhaps instead look at your mobile app user metrics to understand which services get use most frequently and then tie those back to the respective page on your website.


Email is everyone preferred method of business communication and there is more than one way to put it to use to promote your app.  For starters, you can place a simple text or image link underneath your email signature. With every email you send, you’ve created an effective way of publicly reaching a few more eyeballs in the community.

And the email signature features can be departmental specific. For example, perhaps your finance department (tax collector, tax assessor, etc.) can put a plug in department staff’s email signature about the town’s newest mobile app feature that allows for payment of taxes through the app.  Maybe your app has a feature for reporting issues in the community that should be promoted within the email signature of all public works and engineering employees. And perhaps all utility department employees can include information about the ability to pay your water bill through the app.

Second, your marketing and communications team is most likely using promotional emails to target larger email lists. Just as social media is a great platform for broadcasting the features of your mobile app, these marketing emails are a great way to specifically target a digital engaged audience. Remember to make it visual and promote the benefits of downloading the app.

Promoting Your App Digitally

Every local government agency has plenty to offer its community through services and public outreach.  For agencies that have invested the resources in a mobile app platform, it is important to highlight features at every opportunity to ensure it supports the as many constituents as possible.   

There are many ways to promote your app digitally and they are all important in achieving community support.  Leverage your social media accounts to get free advertisement for your apps. Determine highly relevant placement of all of your apps throughout your website.  Drop reminders of the app in your email signatures for additional publicity.

Start a digital advertising blitz for your apps today and watch the adoption and engagement reach levels you have never seen before.  It is a practice that will prove itself worthwhile and have you wondering why you didn’t start sooner.

Guide on 9 Ways to Promote Your Government App

This content was co-written by CIVICSavvy and Rock Solid.

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