In this series, guest columnists respond to one of three topics selected by ELGL co-founder Kent Wyatt. This week Jennifer Davies, City of Las Vegas, NV, Public Information Officer, writes about factors to consider when departments ask for their own social media accounts.
“We want our own Facebook page.” As a social media manager, this is one of the top comments I regularly receive from departments, commissions and elected officials. While anyone who has ran a successful page (and understands the blood, sweat and tears that go into monitoring, responding and planning content) will understand, your first reaction will often be something like this.
Just “checking the box” and having social media accounts doesn’t increase your visibility if you don’t have a sound plan to grow your following and build engagement with your community. Here are the factors we consider before rolling out new accounts.
What does your social media policy say?
Our policy says all new pages must not only be approved by our communications department but also that we must maintain access. It also explains what the expectations are of an account admin, which are helpful to fully explain to anyone who will have access to any new accounts.
What are your goals?
We ALWAYS start with this question. It helps ensure that you’re on the same page and are understanding what the needs of the event/commission/department are. Most of the time, they just want some extra eyes on the great work that they are doing. This helps you determine the next question.
Is social media the right fit?
Many people understandably confuse social media with digital marketing efforts. After understanding their goals, you can better determine if they just want a way to communicate with a small group of engaged members or if they really need a strong social media presence to be successful. Perhaps an email newsletter or dynamic website is a better tool based on their goals.
Who is your audience?
It helps to talk through who they are really trying to reach. Is it a small group of participants or members? Is it the larger city population? Is their demographic teenagers? Senior citizens? Do you need a place for sharing updates or actually facilitating conversations among your community? Understanding who and how they want to talk to is critical because they require different tools.
Is this a long term effort?
Will their page still be relevant a year from now? It’s an important consideration as most social media accounts should have the ability to live a long and full life. Pages can be rebranded with different efforts but the general goals of the page should have staying power beyond just a few weeks or months.
What will you post?
Do they have the visual components necessary to run an account? This can be very challenging for less visual projects or initiatives but it’s a key component of any successful page strategy. Do they only have a few things to post each month? Perhaps running that content on main channels (with even a small advertising budget to reach a specific audience) can be more effective.
Do you have the man power to do this?
Who is going to run the pages and will they be able to respond outside of traditional business hours? We always point out that our main social media channels are staffed by us 24/7/365 and is the standard that we have established. If they don’t have someone to commit to this, sharing content on our main channels may be the better way to go.
Overall, it’s my opinion that the less accounts you have, the better. If you’re lucky enough to have a social media team in your organization, work with them to determine what your best course of action is. Why reinvent the wheel and take it upon yourself if you don’t have to? As a local government, it’s the many public meetings, department efforts and initiatives that make our content diverse, dynamic and engaging. It can take years to build up an engaged following versus using established pages to immediately have an impact.