Digital Engagement and Public Service: How to Have a Successful Time in Social Media

A mate of mine asked me for some advice on how to get better at using social media.  So I dropped him a line and then I thought ‘It might be worth sharing?’  So here it is.

Don’t Underestimate the Power of Objectives

Be clear about what you need to achieve and build everything around this. Get this right and it will surface your passion, determine what you talk about, generate quality followers, cultivate brand ambassadors and determine the tools you use.  Objectives might be things like:

  • The number of followers BUT also the type.  Quantity is not everything.
  • Having a high reach and influence.  E.g. you may pick a Kred or a Klout target?
  • Protecting your reputation
  • Dealing with complaints and managing problems early – this could also manifest itself in taking pressure of other parts of your business
  • Resolving problems publicly and using the power of social networks to spread the word about the fix
  • Encouraging positive behaviour, channel shift, reducing transaction costs and all the stuff you would expect to improve your bottom line

By measuring progress against your objectives you can demonstrate that time spent on social media is making a difference.  You can then demand more resources, more training and more tech.


Use social media tools to search around things that matter to your organisation.  Use this information to find out where your stakeholders hang out on line (i.e. which networks), who your influencers are and who your potential collaborators might be.   This will help you to focus your engagement where it matters most.  It will help to prioritise your social media activity.

Set Up Your Kit

Build your Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram, Youtube/Vimeo and blog(s) etc. from the ground up with your objectives in mind and synchronise your engagement activity.

You will also need to be thinking a lot about your digital content  and then this will need resourcing.  For example, if you work for a Council you could integrate an app for paying bills through Facebook, or booking a class at a leisure centre.  To get people’s attention (and then more) you will probably need to broadcast videos/infographics/whitepapers/slideshows/images etc. You will need this kind of content to get them engaged in your issue.  This all needs making by someone.

Invest in our social media mediation and monitoring tools so that you can manage your broadcasting, engage in your networks from one place and manage the workload efficiently.   You will also need to track mentions of your organisation, key workers, locations and places that you care about.

You will also need to protect your social media assets. Managing log-ins and passwords is very important.  Get your staff some SocialmediaIQ training  before you hand over the keys to your social media assets.  Make sure your staff share a common voice when talking on behalf of your organisation.  This is where having a passion helps. You will need a social media policy.

Spend your time wisely and build a digital social team

You will need to spend time in your social networks being helpful, broadcasting new content, solving problems and dealing with complaints.  You may even be trying to change people’s behaviour.  Don’t expect people to come to you either.  You will need to participate in other people’s networks; be prepared to hang out where your customers and other stakeholders spend their social media time.  This all needs resourcing properly and don’t forget paid for adverts and paid for engagement.

Depending on how big your organisation is you will need a digital team, or your existing staff will need to retrain, or you will need to outsource. Start by thinking ‘Who in your organisation can create engaging and useful content to be shared across social networks that ultimately helps to achieve your social media goals?’ And then fill in the gaps.

There are many social media engagement, monitoring and mediation tools out there to help. Some free, or nearly free, others cost money, some are very expensive.  Participate can do for you too.

Track your progress, evaluate and respond

You will need to continuously track your progress.  You will need to monitor your reach and influence, understand what types of broadcasts resonate in social networks and have traction with your audiences?  You will need to measure things like:

  • The things people comment on
  • What’s shared and what isn’t?
  • What do people interact with most?
  • Are you increasing useful fans, week by week?
  • How close are you to your social media goals? Week by week? Month by month?
  • Ultimately depending on your business you will want to know how it is impacting your bottom line.
  • The impact it is having on other areas of your organisation?  E.g. are you better at solving problems? Are you better at dealing with complaints? Is your organisation’s message getting out there and how has this improved your reputation – ALL this is measurable, even if sometimes it will be by proxy.

When you do all this you soon start to learn what works well and what does not? Then you evaluate and shift your tactics and strategy accordingly. 

Remember. Every human has 24hrs in a day and lots of people are competing for their time.  Please DO NOT use social media to broadcast your corporate junk (okay you can occasionally). To win in social media you need to be helpful, have a dialogue, give useful stuff away and schedule the production of your own creative, original content.  


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