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How to create a social media strategy for government

Each channel has its own audience, and therefore requires its own strategy.

To make the most of limited time and resources, government communicators first need take a step back think about what they want to achieve. A little old fashioned goal-setting goes a long way to get a good strategy going. At the same time, government communicators work directly with people, and people are finnicky. How effectively one reaches their goals will depend on how well they understand and work with the many ways their community receives information.

Set Goals

Communications goals vary from community to community, but overall public sector communicators prioritize two key goals: cultivating an informed community and building trust

However, more specific sub-goals vary from each organization to the next. For some, shifting government from stoic and dry to friendly and approachable is top of the list. For others, it is vitally important to become the community’s go-to source for valid information. Still others might prioritize developing a wide reach in order to get the word out efficiently in a crisis.

Goal-setting often involves coordinating with multiple people in an organization. This can be time intensive, but it is worth it. Start by writing down a goal statement: what do you want to achieve? Make sure it is worded positively, that it is specific, attainable and realistic, and that it is measurable. In short, make it a SMART goal.

Now repeat with as many goals as needed. Reorganize into groups, combine where ideas are repeated, and pretty soon you will have a clear, actionable set of goals to guide you as you decide what strategies to pursue.

Implement a strategy

Once you outline your goals, start implementing them by analyzing how each social network will help you achieve them. This is the strategy part. A blog is good for long-form content, while Twitter will get short and concrete messages to the masses. Nextdoor can target specific communities and Facebook has a wide reach with advanced targeting options. Instagram lets you show off how pretty your community is, and the kids are all on Snapchat. You do not have to be on every network, but do be on the networks where your community concentrates. Remember, your social media mix should follow your goals, not the other way around.

Understand Your Audience

Take the time to understand how your community uses each network. For this step, there’s no shortcut. You really have to go directly to each platform and take a look at what people talk about, how they talk about it, and what they seem to enjoy about each social network or platform. It will help to get out into the community and ask for feedback.

For this step to be effective, make regular check-ins with your audiences. Do an audit once a year or more to take stock of where your audiences are. Use Google Analytics, social media listening, and measurement tools to analyze how people interact with you and each other. Get out and talk to people about how they find information from your organization. Remember, the conclusions you draw from this analysis will likely change over time, so don’t be afraid to adapt your strategy accordingly. 

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