Social media resolutions: Connect with your community
It's important that we communicate directly the value our service provides to our communities
As the New Year approaches, most of us will be making resolutions such as losing weight, becoming more fit, spending more time with friends and family, and heading down a different path of professional development. Some of those resolutions we'll keep, and some just aren't meant to be.
What about our agencies? What resolutions for the New Year (other than keeping to a lower budget without decreasing the value of our service) are our agencies going to be able to keep?
If you haven't already resolved to connect with your community, then now is the ideal time to do so. Social media offers that opportunity at a relatively low cost with a low barrier to entry.
Here is a New Year's resolution plan for your agency to connect with the community through social media:
- Identify goals for your agency based on your long term communications plan. Don't have a long term communications plan? Then resolve to have one in place before January 1.
- Become your own expert. It is common to hear leaders talk about the need to hire a social media "expert" which is prohibitively expensive for some agencies. The truth is that, although there are thousands upon thousands of these self-described social media "experts," you don't need them. Any questions about social media strategy can usually be answered through Google at a much reduced rate: free. Don't let the lack of an "expert" hold you back; you can become your own.
- Establish a social media team. Budget conscious readers may want to survey their personnel to see who already has social media knowledge and ask for volunteers from that group. It's important to create a team, but be sure to designate a leader -- a Chief of Content -- who will be responsible for crafting the overall message.
- Establish a central hub. There are many departments out there with websites designed by an overpaid design firm or have web pages on city sites buried three or four layers deep. What you need is a centralized hub for your content on a website that you can access and control. Your website should have a top-level domain (such as YourDepartment.com or YourDepartment.org depending on your status).Platforms like WordPress and Blogger allow you to host your site for free, and their software already allows for content syndication.
- Establish your spokes. The two big names in social media today are Facebook and Twitter. It's important to remember that, a few years ago, MySpace and Blogger are where the masses gathered, and the dominant sites may be usurped again. Nevertheless, after establishing your central hub, reach out to your audience on social media by establishing a Facebook Page and a Twitter profile. To keep the content fresh, import a Real Simple Syndication (RSS) feed from your hub into these social media "spokes."
- Engage. Once you've established your team, created your hub, and extended your reach through network spokes, it is time to craft content engaging your audience and stakeholders
It's important that we communicate directly the value our service provides to our communities. A cost effective way to do that is by connecting through social media.
You don't even have to wait until the New Year -- make the resolution today to reach out to your communities through social media.