The Basics of a Strong Social Media Presence

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With the availability of social media opportunities like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, maintaining an online presence has become an integral part of how many people choose to interact. Social media’s ability to disseminate information to groups cannot be matched by traditional mail, automated phone call systems or even email, making it an important tool for local governments to utilize. To get the most out of your government’s social media experience, consider what, why and how you’ll pass information along.

Choose Your Agency’s Purpose and Person

As a local government, you’ll first need to decide what information you’d like to convey through each social media site, in order to help determine what platforms you’ll utilize. Common uses might be time-sensitive like road closures or extreme weather, or it might be information on the availability of current city programs. A clear strategy for the use of each channel is essential.

You’ll also need one central point of contact to manage the various pages, whether it be a single employee or a Public Relations department. Choose carefully; whoever runs the pages should have a good working knowledge of the social media site, as well as the common sense to know what is appropriate (and what is not) for a government-run social media page. The point of contact will need to have the bandwidth to be able to devote a significant amount of time to planning and executing your social media strategy.

Understand the Uses (And Limitations) of Each Platform

Each platform has its own pros and cons. If you’re looking to get timely information out to citizens (such as in the case of unplanned construction), sending out a quick tweet on Twitter might be your best option. However, with the volume of tweets posted per hour, it’s likely your organization’s tweet will only be visible on your followers’ feed for about an hour.

If you’re looking to run a positive PR campaign for the city’s parks department, Instagram has great options for both videos and pictures. Instagram was made for high quality visuals, so resources might need to be dedicated to the proper equipment and  training employees on how to take professional-quality photos.

And of course, it is always recommended to maintain a local government Facebook page; it’s an excellent way to sum up information like operating hours, location, and contact information, and many older citizens use it exclusively.

Stay Current

Publishing frequent updates with new information or media content is essential. If the public knows that you upload unique and helpful material, you’re more likely to attract followers—one of the prime goals of having a social media presence. New content will also help you regularly show up on user’s homepages or feeds, ensuring that any important information is making its way to the people who need it most. It is a significant time commitment to plan posts, source visuals and other content, and respond to comments and requests for clarification. If your current staff members are unable to take on the sizable task, it is definitely worth seeking out a social media management company that specializes in local government to help you get the most out of your investment in social media.

Whatever way your agency may plan to use social media, it’s important to recognize that it has an ever-growing variety of advantages for an organization. Not only can you make your agency more available and approachable to your citizens, but you can also use it as a networking tool to connect with other local governments and learn from them as well. By better connecting with the world around it, your government can better provide for the needs of its people.