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How To – Find Your Audience & Approach on Social Media as a Gov’t Agency

I’m helping out a friend as he is getting his government agency into communicating using social media.

There is a series of steps I’m helping him with in the research phase and thought I’d share. Would love to here others.

Prequel – What are you trying to do?
(*From Gwynne Kostin comments on original Post*)
-What is the mission of your agency? Mission of the campaign?
-What is the purpose? Why do you feel need for social media?
-What does success look like? What do the metrics look like?
-For example, “Social media will help me recruit great staff in order for my agency to have good hires in the pipeline to prepare for the upcoming retirement

1) See What You Are Currently Doing
-What is your agency already doing? Do you have a website? Email subscription? Send out news releases? How often are they updated? How popular are they? What content is popular? How often is content updated?

2) Stakeholder Identification – Who are you trying to reach?
-Don’t just say all citizens. Provide some boundaries around it. 35-54 year old mothers? 35-44 male farmers in rural areas
-Use any of your previous channels to identify the types of people who currently consume your gov’t content
-If there are some big gaps where you hope to increase engagement, describe them

3) Find Out The Influencers and Where They Live
With the Malcolm Gladwell analogy, this is finding who are the bigwigs in the area your gov’t agency cares about. In the field (agriculture), or location (city/state), etc.

-Who are the print publiciations that cover this information
-Newspapers, trade magazines, TV stations, etc
-Key reporters
-They probably have a social media presence to engage with

-Blogs – use technorati.com and search a variety of key words to see the blogs with the top authority in you area

-Twitter – Use wefollow.com to search key areas and tags to find the top people on your topic on Twitter
-Then I look at those top people’s twitter feeds to see who they follow
-Look at their twitter streams to see what hashtags they use, what people they respond to. Also check out what the hashtag?
-Start following key people

-Facebook – Search Facebook fan pages – http://www.facebook.com/pages/
-Search by keyword such as city, topic, name of your agency
-When you find a good page, see what other pages they follow
-Follow the good pages (in either personal capacity or in agency capacity – whatever possible)

-Other Sites – Google the crap out of it. Search all sorts of key words until you find relevant websites. Use alexa.com and compete.com to get an idea of how much traffic certain sites receive. There’s probably a ton of sites that cover your niche…find them

4) Figure Out What Content Is Popular & What Are Expectations
While you are doing step #2, make sure to identify what are the common themes.
-What content is popular?
-What is getting the most likes or most RTs?
-What topics are people most interested in – for example, if you notice
that there are lots of interest in a certain disease you want to make
sure your agency is covering it?
-What tagline/headlines draw in audience?

What are Expectations from Audience?
-What seems to be the tone of the community?
-Do you see a lot of @replies?
-Do you see a lot of video?
-How often are people posting a day on FB and Twitter? 1X a day on FB, 3-4 on Twitter? Way more? Way less?

5) Find Out What Related Government Agencies are Doing
-Good thing about gov’t is there aren’t any real competitors
-It’s extremely doubtful you are working on an issue that another agency is also not dealing with
-If you are at the federal level, see what other federal agencies are doing. See what the state and local counterparts are doing in your area
-Same is true at state and local level, see what each other is doing, what nearby towns are doing, other states/municipalities. See what community partners/nonprofits are doing.
-Fan all of these people and cross-promote materials

6) Help me out
-I’m sure I’m missing a lot here…What else do you need to do?

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