Social media can be used as a participatory planning method in three forms:
As an interaction tool for participatory planning
When using social media as a tool for participatory planning, it is recommended to compose a social media strategy or plan. In this plan, goals for using social media, targeted participants, their needs for information and communication, as well as the tools or channels are identified. It is also needed to consider resources (e.g. time, money, tools), capabilities and peer-support for using social media.
As a channel for bottom-up self-organization
When social media is used for self-organized participation the citizen can initiate a bottom-up participation process targeting for example to raise awareness of a topical local issue or to organize themselves to jointly influence planning through e.g. alternative plans.
As a source of information that reflects everyday practices
Social media can also be used as a source of information for urban planning. However, while this data can provide relevant information and reflect people’s everyday practices, these methods cannot be considered as participatory planning as the users are not actively participating.