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Cities battle to gain most Twitter followers

Beaverton is third in contest to get 2,014 followers


Hillsboro threw down the gauntlet, and Beaverton is stepping up for a virtual duel that pits cities in Washington County against each other in a fight to reach 2,014 followers on Twitter.

The battle rages on until the end of the year.

The competitors? Hillsboro, Tigard, Tualatin, West Linn and Washington County.

Mayor Denny Doyle called the contest, referred to in Twitter shorthand as “#Twitter14,” a great opportunity to increase Beaverton’s following.

“A bit of friendly competition is a good thing too,” Denny said. “We will all gain from it.”

Beaverton, aka @CityofBeaverton, is currently in third place behind Tigard and Hillsboro. It has a bit of catching up to do, since the city didn’t actively begin using its Twitter account until last November, when Jordan Imlah, a public information provider for the city, took it over.

“We don’t want to telegraph our punches to the competition, but we do have a formal social media strategy that is revisited often to make sure we’re making effective use of our tools as the environment changes and grows,” Imlah said.

Imlah did say the city’s current focus was on Twitter and its Facebook page, which boasts just below 3,000 followers, and said Beaverton was expanding its use of YouTube and exploring other social media platforms, such as Instagram.

“We definitely foresee expanding our use of social media in the coming year,” he added.

Community-building

The challenge was formally extended Monday and is at its heart a friendly competition, said Patrick Preston, public affairs manager for the city of Hillsboro.

“It helps everybody,” Preston said. “It grows the lists (of followers we have) and inspires people to pay attention to news and information coming out of their cities.”

Most cities in Washington County have about 800 followers apiece. Tigard currently leads the pack with 916 followers.

The standings (as of Dec. 30)

Tigard: 920

Hillsboro: 877

Beaverton: 854

West Linn: 689

Tualatin: 610

Washington County: 541

The city of Beaverton operates two accounts on Twitter, one for general city information and one for the Beaverton Police Department.

“We’re exploring the creation of other accounts as well, depending on the need,” Imlah said.

The city — which is to say, Imlah — generally tweets at least twice a day during the week, posting city announcements, linking to holiday safety tips and even engaging in a friendly back-and-forth with the city of Tigard’s Twitter account about the competition.

The @CityofBeaverton account even gets involved in social media trends like “#throwbackthursday,” which encourages users to post old photos of themselves. Last week, Imlah tweeted a more than 70-year-old snapshot of local students enjoying a snow day in front of Beaverton Bakery.

List of Beaverton’s active Twitter accounts:

@CityofBeaverton — The city's official Twitter account

@BeavertonPolice — Beaverton Police Department

Other Beaverton Twitter accounts:

@BeavertonSD — Beaverton School District

@BeavtonChamber — Beaverton Area Chamber of Commerce

'A social win-win'

“The city of Beaverton is very serious about ‘winning’ this competition, and we have our leadership 100 percent behind us,” Imlah said. “We see this as a win-win situation for all of us to create more dialogue with our communities and better relationships with our residents.”

With just over 60 tweets under its belt, the city has already seen the benefit of using the social media platform famed for its brevity, one which allows for a more conversational approach in interactions between Beaverton residents and city government.

“We understand that many residents can’t always come to City Council meetings, open houses, Neighborhood Association Committee meetings, city events, etc., so we try to connect with them in the most convenient way possible,” Imlah said. “We feel it’s incredibly important to keep our residents up-to-date and social media is a vital tool for doing so.”

Times reporter Geoff Pursinger contributed to this story.



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