Social Media offers government agencies/officials the opportunity to connect and influence their communities. (We were just discussing that in a Government Social Media Workshop.) But, as can happen in the real world of Social Media, sometimes the conversation is or turns antagonistic. How should government representatives respond to negative social conversations?
In this government Social Media workshop with a group of government officials our goal was to define their Government Social Media Policy and to train them on Social Media networks and strategy. (Think Mayor representatives, PIO, youth programs, health department, fire department, and other government services.)
In customizing our training to meet their needs and to assist in writing their social media policy, we noticed a recurring theme: negativity on Social Media networks in their community. Residents frequently used Social Media to complain about people, things, services, etc. (We’ve noticed this in other community groups too. There are some people who feel invisible on Social Media and tend to use it as a forum for venting and complaining.)
As leaders in a community, government officials/agencies have the opportunity to influence their community in a very positive and impactful way. Government Social Media training can make sure the digital conversation surrounding their municipality/city/community is positive.
Here are 6 ways for government officials/agencies to use Social Media to impact your community for good.
- Have a Plan. Know your objectives for using Social Media and how you’re going to use it to create and support positive Social media communication. Have a Social Media Policy in place that guides the team in what can/can’t be shared on Social Media, the use of which social networks and management tools for using them for positive communications in your community. Train your team on how to handle comments, questions, complaints, and crisis management – as well as encourage positive communication.
- Share the greatness! Be the positive force in your community. Government agencies and officials can use Social Media to share great news and updates. Examples: Positive articles/PR about your city/organization, awards, new/growing companies, citizens who are doing great things, and inspirational updates. Take a leadership role in being the voice of encouragement and support on social networks.
- Get the conversation started! Create a #Hashtag for your city. For example, a neighborhood in Cincinnati is called ‘Over the Rhine’ (OTR). Supporters and fans of OTR use ‘#ThisisOTR’ when posting photos and updates about this neighborhood. It brings people together in their support of this beautiful district. Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake uses #SaferStreets, #StrongerNeigbhorhoods, #BetterSchools and #HealthierCity to share her initiatives and to encourage conversation around these positive topics. What #Hashtag can you create for your city or neighborhood to get people sharing in Social Media?
- Encourage your employees to share positive posts too. You don’t have to ‘mandate’ that they express anything that they don’t believe/support, but if they’re at a great event or take a beautiful photo of the city, remind them to share it in social. Get the word out that your city/community is beautiful and loved. (Actually, based on your Social Media policy , they shouldn’t be sharing negative comments about your community any way!)
- Say it in Pictures and Videos. Every day is a great day to show a wonderful photo of your community, your employees, or your city. Take amazing photos and share them on your government Social Media networks. Capture the spirit of your community in videos and post those in various social networks.
- Like/Share positive comments about your city/community. Social Media is the perfect place to show your awareness, support and involvement with your citizens, constituents and other local government departments. Follow local hashtags, other government departments, local residents who are actively positive on your city/organization. LIKE and SHARE (with attribution) their photos and updates. Thank them for posting great things about your city/organization.
BONUS: (It’s not a social media idea, but still a great digital communications example.) Give a constant reminder. An advocate for Cincinnati adds this to her email signature: “What great thing have you said about Cincinnati today?” What could you add to your email signature? Website? Tagline? Think of ways you can encourage others to be positive about your community every day!
As leaders in your community, who are passionate about their citizens, businesses and neighborhoods, government officials/organizations have the opportunity to turn around any negativity in Social Media. Challenge your personnel and officials to do so with encouragement and examples, and with government Social Media training.
For government Social Media training, Social Media policy and strategy, Boot Camp Digital is here to help. Contact us today to find out about our government Social Media workshops and how we can assist your government official(s)/agencies in utilizing Social Media to reach your community and make a difference!