Does Gov Need an Exit Strategy for Facebook?

You want every selfie and status update to get attention from your friends. But are all your friends seeing your posts? If they are, are you engaging them? Government organizations face this same challenge. Given Facebook and Twitter’s popularity in the last few years, federal, state and local organizations have worked to engage people on these channels. But is it working? Is it worth it?

In a recent Govloop and GovDelivery online training, three digital communications experts discussed the climate of social media and what your organization can do to increase audience engagement when Facebook isn’t cutting it. The panel featured:

  • Amy Larsen, Client Success Consultant, GovDelivery
  • Derek Belt, Social Media Specialist in King County, WA
  • Maurice Chaney, Media and Communications Specialist, Sacramento, CA

View the on-demand training below:

Check out the recap below as well:

Now, nobody is saying to get rid of Facebook. But there are some common misconceptions. Our training looked to clear those up.

“Organizations rely on social media because they believe it will inform and engage their audience. But social media can actually filter your content,” said Larsen.

Social media posts reach your entire audience: FALSE

“Facebook says the organic reach, the audience you’re not paying for, will continue to decline. Newsfeed is increasing on Facebook so they’re trying to make it more relevant for the user,” said Larsen.

Try this instead: Disperse your content across multiple platforms, new and old, repeatedly to reach the largest number of people you can. Ask yourself the following questions: Who uses this channel? Do you frequently engage your followers? Do you broadcast relevant posts?

All demographics are represented on Facebook: FALSE

“You have to adjust to where audience is going not where they’re at,” said Larsen.

Try this instead: Know your audience and what social media they use. Simple research can make a big impact on your approach to social media. Develop your voice. For example, three million teens have left Facebook in the last three years. And although gaining in popularity, not many users are on Instagram or Pinterest.

Derek Belt: “Over the past 12-18 months Facebook has turned into a fire hose. It used to be on full blast, promoting your content everywhere, but has now turned your content into a drizzle in an attempt to save money,” said Belt.

You control who sees your content on Facebook: FALSE

Facebook’s algorithm for showing content has changed. You see pictures of cute babies and weddings plastered all over your news feed because the more engagement it receives (likes, shares, comments) the more likely you are to see it. Roughly 10% of your friends/fans see the content you share.

Try this instead: Move to an ‘owned’ environment instead of one that another party owns. You don’t own fans on Facebook, they’re Facebook’s fans. They can toggle how many people see your content so you don’t truly have control over your reach. Think of the media you can own, like newsletters and emails.

I should abandon Facebook because no one is seeing my content: FALSE

“Facebook ads are just like television: you pay for eyeballs and pay for reach,” said Belt. You get what you pay for. Use your money when you really need to boost a post and purchase legitimate ads on Facebook.

Try this instead: Don’t abandon the platform, just rethink it. Time, effort, and stress are no longer worth simple customer engagement. Facebook is one of the best market research tools: new media version of the focus group. Create content that will garner comments and user feedback to form multiple focus groups disguised as posts. What’s important is that the content is great – not just good.

Maurice Chaney: “We want to be a creator of news. We know where people want to get their information. Now that social media is constantly changing, the constant we’re seeing is that email is king in the digital world,” said Chaney.

You can just post once on one social media platform if the content is good enough: FALSE

The city of Sacramento posted a video on Facebook and it got 300 views. After reposting it to its blog and sending out an email, the video got more than 1,500 views, an increase of 400%. Old media is still relevant, believe it or not. According to Chaney’s analytics, “Email engagement is just as essential to us as it ever was.” Morevoer, according to the online poll, nearly 80% of organizations actively use email for outreach.

Try this instead: “You must have a solid PR toolkit with a blend of comprehensive tactics with good content,” said Chaney. Maintain a blend of online and offline engagement. Reaching out through old and new media will only help to broaden your audience. Create content once but publish it everywhere.

Good content is just content that’s shareable so that’s all my organization should focus on: FALSE

“Meaningful content is darn good and is contextual as it hits close to home,” said Chaney. What makes content shareable? Something relevant and something your community will want to see. It’s that simple.

Try this instead: Speak to your community. Pictures are great because they quickly and effectively convey a message. Think about what your average citizen would like to know and give it to them.

Be sure to check out the on-demand session here to hear more tips on increasing your outreach through multiple channels. And check out GovDelivery’s Reach the Public blog for great digital communications insights.

Leave a Comment

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply