Skip to content

City of Birmingham's COVID-19 Social Media Pivot


The demand for effective communication services has become an integral role for municipalities in serving the public. At the time, the City of Birmingham’s communications director resigned, leaving behind several City projects that needed to be communicated to the public, such as the ongoing Master Plan efforts, citywide lead testing and planned Maple Road reconstruction project. The City brought in Van Dyke Horn to carry on with these communications plans. Three months into our contract, the COVID-19 pandemic changed our world. The Master Plan and lead testing were put on hold, along with other City projects. Our team had to quickly reevaluate our communications strategy to provide Birmingham residents with rapid and accurate COVID-19 updates while also sharing other important City related news.






Van Dyke Horn promptly shifted our strategy to accommodate the new challenges the COVID-19 pandemic brought on. We understood that knowledge is power; we wanted residents to feel comfortable that the City was taking necessary precautions and continuing projects in light of the pandemic. The more information people had via social media, the less anxiety and worry they’ll experience.

Our first shift was in our posting frequency. We increased posting frequency from three times per week to at least five. At one point we were posting two times per day.

This was the first year that the City had to cancel its most popular events, including the Birmingham Fair and Woodward Dream Cruise. We wanted to provide residents with a sense of normalcy, so we thought outside of the box for other events that garner large crowds. Birmingham’s beloved Memorial Day Service gathers hundreds of visitors and residents in Shain Park. We decided that this would be the perfect event to broadcast live on Facebook, so residents can experience the service from the comfort of their home. This was a first ever program for the City of Birmingham, and it helped the residents feel a sense of normalcy during the unprecedented times.

We promoted businesses that were helping first responders and the community during the pandemic to increase patronage, such as Griffin Claw Brewery’s distilling hand sanitizer, masks from the Birmingham Tailor and Social Kitchen building produce boxes. We also promoted the City’s COVID-19 resources, such as the COVID-19 hotline, online forms and payments, free parking and more.

Our final tactic was to create a social media series to promote acts of kindness happening within the Birmingham community. The goal was to uplift residents with heartfelt stories, showcasing that the community was coming together despite the uncertainty in the world. There were stories of neighbors creating tutorials on how to make your own mask, neighbors donating masks to those in need, neighbors taking time to cook meals for immune-compromised members of the community.


Van Dyke Horn’s success was marked by the City of Birmingham’s improved Facebook and Nextdoor statistics from March 2020 to April 2020. This was the largest increase in engagement the City has ever seen. Statistics provided by Facebook indicate the City’s total page views increased by 39% and their page likes increased by 52%. Both post reach and engagements skyrocketed to an average 391% and 289%, respectively. Statistics provided by Nextdoor indicate that post impressions at 100,902 total, growing 46.5%, and total post likes have doubled since March 2020. The City of Birmingham continues to be a proud VDH client.