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Online Info: Shafter showcases social media boom

Online Info: Shafter showcases social media boom
Posted at 6:17 PM, May 22, 2024

SHAFTER, Calif. (KERO) — Since December 2020, the City of Shafter has seen substantial growth on its social media platforms as city leaders and staff work to communicate effectively with residents.

  • 23ABC spoke with Rachel Zermeño and Neveah Cruz from the city of Shafter to learn about the city's tactics to connect with residents. According to data provided by the city, their tactics are working seeing a 163% jump in followers on Facebook, and a 268% jump in followers on Instagram.
  • When asked about how they went about their work, Zermeño said she looks up to the City of Tehachapi and how they've been able to grow their social media presence.
  • Key Budge, the public information officer for Tehachapi, said the city's efforts to connect with residents on social media started eight years ago and has now blossomed into various other outlets including a podcast.

City of Shafter Social Media Links
City of Shafter Facebook
City of Shafter Instagram


Hey, just a sec. Sorry, I'm trying to get this post sent off and done. Okay, where was I? Oh, that's right. I'm Sam Hoyle, your Shafter neighborhood reporter and if you follow me on Instagram, you're likely going to see the post that I just did talking about this story. And if you live in the city of Shafter, well, the city wants you to do that, as well.

Rachel Zermeño is the city's community engagement director, and as part of that, her focus is connecting with residents on social media, something the city hasn't always done. But following a study conducted by Cal State Bakersfield students years ago, that message was: start posting more. For Zermeño, building a social media presence for the city has been an interesting puzzle, but in her eyes, it's working.

Shafter Neighborhood Reporter Sam Hoyle interviewing Rachel Zermeño, the city's community engagement director
Shafter Neighborhood Reporter Sam Hoyle interviewing Rachel Zermeño, the city's community engagement director

“People are starting to – at least I feel – are starting to see that they can go to the city page if they want to know what’s going on in Shafter. It’s happening a lot more, we’re gaining a lot more followers,” said Zermeño.

And the data backs that up, according to data provided by the city, from Dec. of 2020 to May of this year, the city’s Facebook page grew from 4717 followers to 7700 followers, or over 160%, and the city’s Instagram page grew nearly 270% from 1,566 to 4,201 followers.

Growing at a rate that the city has hired a part-time social media relations person. Nevaeh Cruz grew up in Shafter and started working for the city earlier this year and hopes to be able to provide some of that crucial information to residents in her role.

“The job that I know have will bring people – will bring stuff to light and that’s very important. I know that as a community member, I wouldn’t want to be kept out in the dark about anything. Especially a town that I live in,” said Cruz.

And while the duo of Cruz and Zermeño are tackling the social media frontier in Shafter, the methodologies behind what they’re doing are modeled in some ways after another Kern County city.

“I don’t see any other cities as active on social media, other than Tehachapi. We look up to Tehachapi. They’re doing really good things in their social media world.”

“I had to sell in that we had to become our own news agency, as a city government,” said Key Budge, Tehachapi City Public Information Officer.

Key Budge has been working with the city of Tehachapi for 8 and hit the ground running with the city’s social media presence, since then the city’s following has grown exponentially, and in his eyes, so has residents' trust in the city to communicate with them whether it be good or bad.

“If we’ve got a water main break, we’re going to own in, step up, and say this is impacting residents. We’ve got a break, we’re on it, we’re fixing it and if it’s good news, we’re doing the same,” said Budge.

And in this digital age, Zermeño and Cruz say they want to hear from residents in the city of Shafter. To find links to Shafter social media sites, you can find that in this story on our website. In Shafter, I'm Sam Hoyle, your neighborhood reporter.

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