Five Tips for Harnessing the Power of Social Media

Five Tips for Harnessing the Power of Social Media
Posted on 01/04/2018
CivicLive Blog - Five Tips for Harnessing the Power of Social Media

Social media is no longer just a thing millennials do in their spare time. Social media and other forms of easily-consumed media have become one of the primary ways by which people are informing themselves about world events. Municipalities traditionally have not used these forms of communication, but recently they have been turning to them more frequently when connecting with their constituents. How best can you use social media to engage with, and inform your constituents? The following tips will give you some insights:

1. Build a Concrete Social Media Strategy

Before creating and posting on any of your social channels, you need to sit down and create a solid social media strategy. You should create separate channel plans for every channel you expect to use. Most cities use Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at the minimum, so you should create individualized plans for each. Some things you should add to your plan include the following:

  • Who are we targeting?
  • What are the basic demographics, behavioristics, and attitudes of who you wish to connect with?
  • Why are we targeting them? What types of information will they be looking for?
  • What’s our “goal” for the channel? (For Instagram, it could be to post tourism related photos. For Twitter it may be to post general updates).
  • What “personality” will our channel have?
  • Is our channel professional and serious, or more playful? Wendy’s Twitter recently went viral because of the “youthful” personality it took on. The channel was young, witty and fresh – Twitter users responded by flooding Wendy’s with likes, shares and follows.

A unified social media plan will make it a thousand times easier to keep your channels “on message” as you can always refer back to that document to make sure your channels are achieving their intended goals.

2. Make it Personal

Social media is one of the easiest ways that you can connect directly with your constituents. Websites, blogs, notices, etc are all passive forms of engagement whereas social media plays much more of an active role. You can easily use it to ask your community questions, get feedback and respond to messages, tweets and notifications.

Nothing is more frustrating to a user than a message left unanswered by a business or organization. Ensure that you are keeping up with messages and inquiries. The one exception to this rule is negative feedback. Constructive feedback should be responded to, but negative, hurtful or insulting comments on your pages should be dealt with immediately. Social media channels should be safe places for your constituents. You should do your best to make sure your channels live up to that objective.

3. Share Information Frequently

Nothing looks sadder than a dusty, empty social media channel. Clear out the cobwebs and keep your followers engaged by sharing content fairly frequently. You can safely post multiple tweets a day, whereas Facebook and Instagram can see less frequent posts.

Being involved in the conversation gets your channels noticed. The more you’re involved in the conversation, the more users your pages attract. Aim for at least two to three tweets a day, with at least two Facebook and Instagram posts a week.

4. Leverage Industry Tools To Get the Most Out of Your Channels

There are hundreds of tools available at your disposal that can make social content creation as painless as possible. Social dashboards such as Tweetdeck, Spredfast or Hootsuite allow you to manage all of your channels under one roof. You can analyze, create, share and edit most of your channels on one “page”, so less time is spent on your end juggling multiple pages.

You should also use these tools to conduct research, by creating A/B tests for your content. You can preprogram messages to be deployed at different times of day with different wordings. See which messages get the most engagement, and then plan accordingly in the future.

5. Ensure You Are Adding the “Media” in “Social Media”

Nothing is more boring than long walls of text. Spice up your pages by adding images, graphs, tables and infographics wherever possible. Research has shown that users are much more likely to click on links, posts or tweets if they see an image embedded within.

Pictures also take the guesswork out of content creation, as you won’t need to worry about what to say – you can show people via an image!

Bonus Tip: At the End of the Day, Be Authentic!

Social connection should be free flowing and natural. Don’t spend hours trying to craft the perfect message. Send something out into the community, and wait for responses. Be as real as possible, and your constituents will love you for it!

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