Gilbert Delivers COVID-19 Information To Residents Through Social Media
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Gilbert Delivers COVID-19 Information To Residents Through Social Media

Informing Gilbert residents through social media may be the most effective way to deliver information on COVID-19


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Gilbert Delivers COVID-19 Information To Residents Through Social Media
Photo by Sara Kurfeß on Unsplash

By Madeleine Williamson

Gilbert's demographics reveal that informing residents through social media platforms may be the most effective way to deliver information on COVID-19.

Arizona towns and cities have taken various steps to inform residents of COVID-19 updates and information. Communities are increasing signage in public areas, sending notices by mail, holding press conferences, and creating email lists to get as much COVID-19 messaging out as necessary to keep residents safe.

For Gilbert residents, notices in the mail, press conferences, and public signage is not the town's main focus. Gilbert's Office of Digital Government has approached COVID-19 messaging and regular town updates with an all hands-on social media approach.

The social media strategy did not develop out of thin air. According to Gilbert's Digital Communications Strategist, Lauren Oxford, the town's centralized marketing team takes advantage of its young demographic.

Over half the adults in Gilbert, 60.4%, fall between 20 and 40 years of age according to data collected by World Population Review.

This means that most adult residents in Gilbert are highly active online, and are naturally more exposed to receiving information via social media. "We are pretty lucky in Gilbert. We have a pretty young demographic," Oxford said.

The goal of Gilbert's social media platforms is to build a community residents can come to, says Oxford. "It's been an unpredictable time for people. We've done a good job of building an audience online," Oxford said.

According to Oxford, all of Gilbert's COVID-19 messaging comes from information put out by Gov. Doug Ducey, the Arizona Department of Health, the Maricopa County Public Health Department, and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Gilbert's choice to share COVID-19 messaging through social media along with the work done by a centralized team exemplifies what makes Gilbert marketing unique, says Oxford.

"Good decisions are based on having the best information, processing that information in a way that leads to policies that drive the best outcomes for citizens," Dr. Michael Ryan, Executive Director of the World Health Organization's Health Emergencies Programme, said.

Ryan's response came in reply to a question about the importance of public messaging and avoiding confusion among communities in a Media Briefing on COVID-19 by the World Health Organization on September 7.

The Gilbert marketing team took the information they had on the town's population and turned it into a strategy to deliver information to residents.

When asked where she gets her news from, Shea Eubanks, a 20-year-old resident of Gilbert who has lived in the town her whole life responded, "Probably Twitter or Instagram".

Eubanks shared that most of the COVID-19 information she receives comes from Maricopa County accounts, specifically @Maricopacounty on Instagram. "That one posts about all the different counties in Maricopa. That's about the only related COVID information that I really get," Eubanks said.

According to Eubanks, posting on social media isn't enough. Gilbert should have more messaging about COVID-19 available to residents besides social media posts, says Eubanks. "All of Downtown Gilbert should have little signs on all the flag posts and stuff, just like propaganda or signage. I think it's kind of beneficial for everyone to have a reminder every now and then," Eubanks said.

Alongside information about Gilbert's social media accounts, Oxford also mentioned that other forms of public messaging can be more expensive. For example, sending a notice by mail to each Gilbert household could cost between 30 and 40 thousand dollars, says Oxford.

According to statistics Oxford shared, Gilbert's social media accounts have seen an increase in user activity since April. From April to July, Gilbert's social media accounts combined have received over 22.8 million impressions and 1.4 million engagements on posts.

Currently, Gilbert has 38 separate media accounts residents can follow for information and updates about all aspects of Gilbert. These social media accounts have worked as Gilbert's prime method of reaching out to its community members.

Alongside these accounts, Gilbert also has implemented a COVID-19 texting service anyone can use by texting "Gilbert" to 313131.

More Gilbert COVID-19 information can be found on the Town of Gilbert website and social media accounts.


Reach the reporter at Madeleinewilliamson17@gmail.com and follow Madwill_edie on Twitter.
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