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Emanuel Administration Loses Social Media Guru

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CHICAGO (CBS) — You probably don’t know his name, but he helped you figure out where Chicago’s snowplows were this winter.

Now, the Emanuel Administration’s social media guru is leaving.

With growth of platforms like Facebook and Twitter exploding, Kevin Hauswirth described his primary goal as the city’s first social media director this way: “How can we use these tools to actually make something work better?”

What resulted from that were initiatives like the “Plow Tracker” tool that lets Chicagoans track snow removal in their neighborhoods.

“We knew that when Chicagoans wake up when there’s snow on the ground, the first question is ‘Where are the plows?’ The city already had the technology to see where the plows are, because there’s GPS on all the trucks. And that’s something the city could see. The public should be able to see that too. The residents are able to hold us accountable for the job that we’re doing.”

He also was able to get the Mayor on Facebook for a town hall meeting shortly after his inauguration. “People submitted questions, they voted on the questions, the top questions were then answered in a town hall meeting that was live streamed on Facebook.”

He and his team also opened up lines of communication between city departments.

Now, he’s taking his digital knowledge to a political consulting firm, where he intends to spread the gospel that social media platforms are here to stay.

“You cannot disconnect digital and social from more traditional (marketing) tactics. It’s all part of the same pie.”

In fact, Hauswirth says that’s one of the keys for small businesses hoping to leverage social media for their benefit.

“Understanding that there shouldn’t be a disconnect between the online lives and the offline lives of both our businesses and our customers is really at the core of how we’re going to keep moving forward.”

For a business owner trying to figure out how to create messages on Facebook or Twitter, Hauswirth offers simple advice: “I think it starts with realizing what you’re good at and realizing why your customers love you.”

Hauswirth says “talking” to customers on social media should be very similar to how clerks talk with customers in the store. “You take cues from that and that’s how you build your digital.”

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