In 2015, government agencies at the local, state, and national level are finding new and innovative ways to leverage social media platforms as a low-cost and effective communication tool. While there can be challenges, there are also benefits of using social media for government outreach and citizen engagement.
Before you discount social media as part of your communications strategy, consider these 5 benefits of social media that will help promote transparency in government:
1. Real-time data collection
Every hour, companies collect data to analyze where they are reaching online users and how. This concept is applicable to government. Social media is an effective way to gain information and feedback from constituents. Collect data and insights from your followers that can be compiled and analyzed to give directional insights.
Please Consider posting polls and survey questions, hosting a Twitter chat, or launching an interactive online program aimed at encouraging citizens to give input on various topics or initiatives. Don’t become discouraged if an idea doesn’t work out immediately. Social media is a continuous exercise to gain real results.
2. Transform public perception and maximize awareness of agency goals
If you asked the constituents you serve, would they say your agency is behind the times? Would they say your agency is transparent and honest? Would they even know what your agency’s mission and current initiatives are? If you answer is no, then social media is an avenue to take in order to transform public perception of your office.
Utilize social media as an innovative way to maximize awareness and citizen engagement. Constituents expect that their questions will be provided with real answers in a timely fashion. By keeping up with trends in digital engagement, government communicators and public affairs professionals can help transform public perception of the agency.
3. Drive Citizen engagement with limited resources and budget
Social media is an efficient and low-cost distribution channel. Driving true citizen engagement is more than just deploying information; it’s about creating a two-way dialogue and generating awareness and support of your agency’s initiatives. Social media is a fantastic platform for hosting relevant content, engaging discussion, and soliciting feedback from those your agency serves.
In addition, government agencies are now launching social media ad campaigns to promote sponsored projects and initiatives. For instance, Facebook, allows account holders to create, publish and control the settings to every ad. If you want to save money, then you can pause the ad at any time. By pausing the ad, you will not spend any money until you decide to resume your ad campaign. The ultimate goal is to promote your mission when there’s a maximum volume of users online in order to conserve your advertising budget.
4. Test your messaging and analyze results
The most critical component to social media is analysis. Before you analyze, create and publish content that includes pictures, videos and other relevant messaging. After you publish over the course of a week or a month, you will have data to use to expand your reach.
In government, you can leverage social media to get real-time insights into what information your constituents are interested in, where/on what platform they are most likely to consume that information, and what’s the best way to say it in order for the call-to-action to resonate with your constituents.
5. Improve your services and the constituent service experience
It’s important to recognize all feedback, even if it’s negative, as a way to improve government services. In most cases, if you ask, your constituents will tell you exactly what they want, need, and expect from your office. Leverage your social profiles as a way to interact with them and communicate directly with them. Lastly, the more consistent that you are with responding to questions and inquiries, the more likely they will share positive feedback with other community pages and friends.
In short, social media is not only beneficial for the private and non-profit sector. Social media is what government will need to use to inform constituents about government services, functions and other relevant items in the 21st century.