Why is your organization on social media? Is it just because everyone else is doing it? Or are you trying to reach more people, to engage with your customers, to educate, entertain, and be part of a conversation?
People are pretty good these days about scanning through their feeds, and weeding out anything that doesn’t touch them personally – which leaves very little room for organizations who operate behind stiff, unapproachable online personas. Humanizing your social media is a matter of engaging with each of your customers on an individual, personal level.
Here are 10 ideas to get you started:
1. Have a personality: What’s the tone of your organization? Serious? Funny? Educational? Helpful? Decide how your organization should present itself, and stay consistent through your website, educational materials, and social media feeds.
2. Respond to people… When someone asks a question on social media, respond rapidly and individually. Point them towards the information they need, or, if they require a more in depth conversation, get their information and take the discussion offline.
3. …but tell them where you’ll be responding: It can be overwhelming to have too many open channels, and between Facebook, Twitter, and blog comments (on top of the usual communication channels!), agencies can lose track of where inquiries might come in. Pick and choose – if you don’t have the bandwidth to respond to blog comments, for example, close them and direct people clearly to where they can ask their questions.
4. Let your audience share: A few Halloweens ago, Seattle City Light ran a video contest called “Energy Vampires” to raise awareness of wasted energy. Other government agencies have held photo contests with specialized hashtags on Instagram and Facebook. Invite your audience to not only participate, but also to vote with “Likes” to help expand your agency’s social media reach.
5. Don’t broadcast, educate: Social media isn’t a billboard, it’s a conversation. People follow government agencies in order to get updates and announcements – more so than with corporations – but if you really want to engage with your audience you should follow the “30/70 Rule.” That is, 30% of your content is about your agency, and 70% should be sharing related content your audience will also enjoy.
6. Use humor: A post from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s blog titled Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocalypse has over 94,000 Facebook shares, 3500 Twitter shares, and 1200 comments. 1200 COMMENTS. The post isn’t just funny – it offers tips for preparing for real emergencies, too.
7. Post behind-the-scenes snippets: Share interviews with your employees, photos of community events, and all those fun and serious moments your team has when preparing for an initiative or participating in volunteer work.
8. Talk about real people: It’s fantastic that your agency’s latest initiative helped 5,000 people reduce their credit card debt – but reading articles filled with numbers and statistics isn’t engaging for most people. Instead, use your social media outlets to share stories of individuals who’ve been helped by your agency.
9. Let your community managers be themselves: Earlier this week I attended a webinar for first time home owners by my local credit union. I’d expected it to be one of the dullest hours of my life, but the presenter sprinkled humorous personal touches throughout – like wryly mentioning that she saves extra money for home repairs because she has three teenage boys. Her willingness to be herself gave a friendly face to the credit union.
10. Moderate third party content: Nothing screams “ghostland” like content that hasn’t been moderated. If you read a blog post that has four comments, but two of them are not-so-thinly-veiled spam, one is a question that never got answered, and one is an offensive rant, you know that the company doesn’t care about its social media. Moderate your comments, answer questions, and delete anything offensive. If you don’t have the bandwidth for that, close comments entirely and direct people towards other ways of contacting you.
For more on the nitty gritty of your social media policy:
- Check out the GovLoop Guid: The Social Media Experiment in Government: Elements of Excellence for examples of how government agencies are using social media to educate audiences and advance their missions.
- Make sure your social media policy is up to code: Essential Elements of a Government Social Media Policy, post by Robin Withall