Thursday, November 14, 2013

I see a bad MOON arising

When former Democratic Party campaign strategist Courtney Wheeler took over the Mayor's Office of Neighborhoods earlier this year, I predicted that MOON--which was originally created as a community-oriented advocate connecting people with Metro bureaucrats and municipal services to solve community problems--would become a campaign/marketing mechanism to sell the Mayor's brand to consumers (a.k.a., his constituents). While we have yet to see whether her work will assist future Dean campaigns for higher office, in the wake of what MOON has done so far, I have to say now that sometimes I really hate being right.

Ms. Wheeler cranked up MOON's social media soon after taking the wheel. Her office joined Twitter and created a PR engine sending out Mayor's Office releases to members of NextDoor (a private social networking site marketed to neighborhoods). While not a member of latter, I have been following @moon_nashville since its beginning. Its primary bent has little to do with troubleshooting and problem-solving at a community level. It has not really been focused on connecting people with Metro services.

The MOON Twitter stream devotes at least as much space if not more to the Mayor's appearances around town and his pet projects as it does to neighborhoods. Here is a sampling of tweets having nothing to do with neighborhoods:


MOON social media promote Hizzoner's appearances with celebrities like Jack White, Jimmy Fallon, Taylor Swift and Garrison Keillor. They hawk a new riverfront amphitheater and The Amp. They preach us up to lose weight, pick up litter, and then lose more weight.

In the meantime, the nods to neighborhoods are marginal at best. They are just as likely to virtually wink at the Chamber of Commerce. The few and infrequent statements about neighborhoods tend to be vacuous ones about how Mayor's Office officials had a "great time" meeting with neighbors of wherever they appeared next.

The Office of Neighborhoods' social media strategy seems oriented to neighborhoods in name only. Kind of what you would expect when a campaign strategist steers the ship.

(While I did not say much about Hizzoner's use of NextDoor in particular, if you are interested, you can find more on it over here after the jump).


  1. The Mayor's office's use of NextDoor has been, I think, appropriately sparse (maybe too sparse if you think community meetings should be announced on the network).

    Our neighborhood's NextDoor discussions specifically forbid politics. As a result, lots of tree-trimmer recommendations, lost dogs, etc. Also, people are not anonymous, so most are somewhat constrained on divisive topics. It still takes face-to-face to discuss serious issues.

  2. It's the official Mayoral account. It's silly to be outraged or even surprised that it is mainly used to distribute press releases/other PR materials from the mayor's office.

  3. I am less troubled by the Twitter account than I am by the fact that the office itself is more focused on campaign PR and less on helping neighborhoods. The days of "just fix the potholes" seem beyond this mayor.