Social Media for Councils

A question we often get asked is “will social media work for me/us?” This can come from an individual, SME company, third sector organsation, or even a big international company, and the answer is still the same… Yes! It’s just the reasons why and strategies you use that differ.

In this new series of blogs, we’ll try and cover some of the top things to think about for different types of clients we have. If you have any further questions, just let us know.

Normally the reasons why councils want to use social media are to communicate with their customers, members of the public and other partners.
Most councils using social media are playing the safe game though, only sharing their other council feeds and trusted sources. Some are only replying to complaints and issues and aren’t thinking out of the box.

We’ve been training our council clients to think out of the safe box, and start to think about the social media feeds as links to the people they want to reach, and the relationships they want to build with the wider community and public.
The first question is who do you know in real life? What contacts do you have who are on social media? Make sure you’re connecting with those, sharing their content when appropriate and getting in on conversations.
Then, who would you like to make more connections with. If you’re lacking in support from community groups… Are you supporting them?

It can be complicated sometimes when councils have multiple social media feeds for different services, normally having one umbrella generic feed. So out of all of these different feeds, who does what and why are they there? It’s worth doing an audit of that and making sure conversations and relationships are at the front of the targets for that feed.
It’s also important to make sure there is consistency in the voice, style and branding that is sent out across these different feeds. Do they all know about each other? Are they regularly sharing relevant content across the different platforms.
The main umbrella feed should be a taster of all the other feeds, and a great promo for people to find out more and follow the other feeds too.

Then starting to think about content, what regular events, and announcements do you have scheduled in? We suggest using a group calendar to add in events you know are going to happen. Some suggestions of content could be…
Public notices – health, safety etc.
Special days and holidays
Council run events
Community events and what’s on
Photo of the week
Think pro-active, what are your regular complaints and signposts?

They you can think more creatively about some content you could start or tap into…
Hashtag hours for example #Prestonhour – One hour a week, people talk about anything in the regional area, why not add into the conversation, or if you have an event to promote, ask people to help you spread the word
Search for your name and any feedback about your services – respond if you can – not everyone will mention you correctly, think about spelling mistakes too!
Invent your own online games or projects – for example you could pick a favourite community group every week/month to promo. This will get more people sharing your post, but also will hopefully get other organisations wanting to be promo’d as well as getting the public to suggest ideas too. A great conversation starter we think.

Overall, don’t be scared to try new ideas, if something doesn’t work, try something new. If you mess up, applogise, but remember that “social media” is for being social, so get talking!

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