EL SEGUNDO, Calif., Aug. 9, 2016 /PRNewswire/ --What's the fastest way to get important messages to your community? Most local government leaders know "social media" is the answer, but getting ahead of the curve on social media presents unique challenges when platforms, best practices and citizen expectations shift so quickly.
In fact, Vision's 2016 "What's Next in Digital Communications" survey of local government leaders revealed that virtually all respondents believe social media will have a significant impact on their organizations by 2020; yet, less than half (42%) feel their current social media presence is "highly effective."
To help municipal agencies bridge that gap, Vision, the company dedicated to creating solutions that promote resident access and participation, today released "10 Steps to Developing a Social Media Strategy," now available for free download at www.visioninternet.com/10-steps.
"More than ever, it's vitally important for local government agencies to know their citizens," said Ashley Fruechting, Vision's senior director of strategic initiatives. "Learning what information they care about, how they want to receive it and how they want to communicate are critical to effective governing."
Vision's 10-step plan, developed with input from hundreds of local government leaders across North America who shared tips, tricks and best practices, includes:
- Define strategy and goals
- Target one or two social media platforms
- Identify key owner and accounts
- Start posting on a regular basis
- Add links everywhere
- Build campaigns with multiple touchpoints
- Work with local celebrities and influencers
- Promote posts strategically
- Review analytics and make adjustments
- Try something new
"Creating an engaging social media presence requires experimentation," Fruechting said. "There's no one size fits all approach in terms of platform or message style. The most successful local leaders take a step back and think about what they're trying to accomplish with social media. Who are they trying to reach, what do they want them to know or do, and why is it important? Then they measure their results – from counting "likes" and "shares" to tracking drops in phone calls, complaints or town hall foot traffic – and adjust as needed."
Local government leaders like Anthony Wilson, public information officer for San Angelo, Texas, make social media management a priority.
"The City had 10 Facebook pages when I first started working there," Wilson said. "Every city department wanted to have their own. We realized we were doing ourselves a disservice by creating niches of special interest so we consolidated them into one main Facebook page. San Angelo now has one of the largest followings of any municipality in the state of Texas."
Wilson recently joined social media masters from Queen Creek, Ariz. and West Hollywood, Calif. on a Vision webinar panel to share his experience with hundreds of local government communications professionals.
In Queen Creek, where the town's share of state revenues hinged on "door-to-door" population reporting in a 2015 Special Census, Digital Media Specialist Jen Snyder reported her team's success with a social media campaign to promote citizen participation, a critically important exercise for a town that had grown 20 percent since the U.S. Census of 2010. Working with local influencers turned what could have been a low-interest text communication into a fun video that attracted thousands of views.
"We used a cheerleading team from a local high school to create a "census cheer" and star in a video, which we housed on YouTube, posted to our Facebook page and promoted through Twitter and other portals," Snyder said. "We had fun with it and promoted the links and #QCCENSUS everywhere. The organic reach was huge."
If "Optimization" were a wheel in Vision's social media plan, "analytics" would be the hub. Social media moves at light speed, which means reviewing analytics and making adjustments becomes routine for those who manage their city's social media presence.
The City of West Hollywood, California, which, according to the City's Digital Media Coordinator Brett White, is "super shameless" in plugging its social media handles on everything from the front doors of City Hall to trash cans around town, is equally zealous about measuring its social media effectiveness.
"We use Google Analytics, Twitter Analytics, Facebook Insights and more to gather statistics we need to assess and adjust our social media strategy," said White. "We need to know that we're getting results. And we can show the reach of our posts and use the metrics to demonstrate the value of social media to our residents."
To maintain engagement, West Hollywood also embraces the final step in Vision's 10-Step plan: "Try Something New." When the Pokémon Go craze hit, West Hollywood immediately posted a message alerting local businesses adjacent to City Hall that they were "in the vicinity of a #PokémonGO gym" and told residents: "Hey #WeHo, if you're out there battling Team Mystic for the City Hall Gym, take a break at one of our local businesses!"
To simplify social media management, Vision recently released visionSocial™, which gives municipal staff the ability to streamline social media posts and activities directly from their content management system, visionCMS™.
To download Vision's "10 Steps to Developing a Social Media Strategy", visit www.visioninternet.com/10-steps. For more insights, visit the Vision Blog at http://blog.visioninternet.com/using-video-and-social-media-to-engage-residents or call 888-263-8847.
Headquartered in El Segundo, Calif., Vision is a national leader in government website development with more than 700 government, non-profit and education clients in U.S. and Canadian communities with populations that range from less than 1,000 residents to more than 5 million. For more than 20 years, Vision has created cost-effective solutions that increase government efficiency, transparency and interactive communications with citizens. The company's powerful, easy-to-use visionLive™ content management system continues to evolve with feedback from hundreds of municipal clients. In 2016, Vision was named to Government Technology magazine's GovTech 100, a listing of leading companies developing innovative or disruptive offerings to improve or transform government.
To view the original version on PR Newswire, visit:http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/10-steps-to-social-media-success-300310884.html