Supercharge Your Data Site Launch in 3 Steps

September 19, 2016 9:00 am PDT | Data as a Service

Are you preparing to launch your open data site?

Learn from your fellow open data innovators how to get visitors to your site, keep them coming back, and attract the attention of your local media outlets.

During a recent Socrata webinar, Promoting Your Open Data Program Vol. 2: How to Publicize Your Site to Citizens, Staff, and Media, Aly Van Dyke, Media Relations Director at Topeka, Kansas, offered these three tips to improve your open data launch.

1. Connect to the news

When you launch your open data site, remember to tie the site’s contents to the news. With the help of social media and the press, your site will be interesting a wide audience, beyond data enthusiasts. As Van Dyke mentioned in the webinar, Topeka recently launched their Capital Projects Dashboard, but it hasn’t received the same type of attention as their Open Budget site launch. They believe this is because they haven’t been able to tie it to bigger news happening in the city.

topeka tweetIf there’s no strong news story to tie the launch to, Van Dyke suggests promoting the new site via social anyway. Keep social coverage regular until there is a relevant news story, then throw you full promotional effort behind a launch. Topeka don’t consider the site launch complete until they have the right news story to leverage.

2. Get in front of people

One of the best ways to promote your site is to get it in front of citizens and show them how to use it. Look for heavily trafficked areas to add a link to — like the homepage for your government.

It can be overwhelming to look at an open data portal for the first time, so education and familiarity can help with adoption. At city council meetings in Topeka, they show Council Members and others how the new site works and the type of information available. Another idea is to create a short two-minute video to highlight the data and how easy it is to access, as Topeka did for their Open Budget and Open Checkbook sites.

3. Stay relevant

Once you’ve launched ytopeka tweetour site, make sure to keep it relevant. Van Dyke discussed the importance of referencing the site whenever possible. When people contact your government about a concern or a question, make sure to point them to your data site first. Making citizens aware of a major, public data source can help them be more informed and involved with your government’s initiatives.

Another way to keep your site at the top of your citizens’ minds is through social media. Topeka uses Twitter in a very playful and informative way, and reaches citizens in a place they’re already going for information. Van Dyke takes social media one step further and goes on “Tweet-A-Longs” with different departments in the city and live tweets. Whenever possible, she references one of Topeka’s data sites, which is a creative way to keep promoting their sites. We’ve often seen that a creative and fun approach to site promotion yields great results. As Van Dyke said, “If you really want the public to engage, you have to be engaging.”

If you’d like to hear more about Topeka’s launch planning, watch the entire webinar here. Looking for even more ways to promote your data site? Check out our “50 Ways to Promote Your Open Data Program” guide.

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