Post by: Kim Stephens
I recently wrote about how the emergency management community is not using their facebook pages as effectively as possible. I would be remiss if I didn’t offer some suggestions and resources regarding how to improve their presence. I believe this is an important topic because facebook pages provide EM organizations with an opportunity to connect to their community and deliver key emergency preparedness information. Furthermore, social media provides the opportunity to tailor the message to meet the needs of different populations in the community. However, none of that will happen unless organizations outline their path and then stick to it. Here are some suggestions.
1. Define your “marketing” strategy.
This doesn’t sound like a way go pump up a page, but believe me if an overarching communications strategy is missing, then it will hurt efforts to deliver an effective message. Of note, getting preparedness messages to the public does involve marketing. This also requires a different strategy than when conveying crisis or recovery information.
A google search for “social media strategy” returns 34,500,000 hits: there are a lot of examples out there and, of course, 99% most of them are for business. But there are resources for the public sector as well. The CDC has a great website for social media that includes “Tools, Guidelines and Best Practices“. Their guidelines for developing a facebook page are 13 pages long. However, with
87, 786 fans, it’s worth reading. The International Association of Chiefs of Police Center for Social Media also has a list of 10 key strategy considerations, but don’t dismiss all of the advice from the private sector. For example, this Mashable article has a great list of “3 Things you Need to know about Social Media Strategy“.
2.Define goals and objectives: Ask yourself some questions, even if you already have a social media presence. Remember to revisit these goals and objectives at least annually and make adjustments accordingly.
- What are your goals for your facebook page?
- Are you interested in reaching a particular audience or segment of the population with this page? (hint, a message meant for everyone might not appeal to anyone). Read this great article: How to Include Diverse, Vulnerable Populations in Emergency Preparedness
- How will you measure if you’ve met your goals? Facebook in particular has some built in metrics, including the number of comments and interactions.
- Are you willing to answer questions and stay engaged with members of the public?
3. Have a year-long plan for postings.
Interesting content doesn’t just happen. If you don’t plan, then on slow days or weeks you will be scraping for something to post and then end up just posting the weather. When there is not a crisis and interest in emergency preparedness is low, you will need to plan in advance for ways to create content people care about.
Here’s what I would do: 12 months =12 different preparedness themes. The picture on the left is from my stand-by best practice, the Queensland Police Service. They have incorporated information about national fraud week into their facebook page very effectively. Each day is a different topic and this character has his own Youtube videos–which are also incorporated into the facebook page. They even state who their target audience is: kids and the elderly. Furthermore, the content is not static, one of the days included a live chat about fraud issues with a detective. The chat took place on the platform CoveritLive, but the link and the archive were advertised on their fb page.
4. Plan for ways to include the community
Strategize for ways to include the public directly. For example, ask them to send in pics of their family or school, etc. doing preparedness activities. Pics of kids or pets are great because they are cute and parents and grandparents will share the site with their friends.
Refer to the article 9 companies Doing Social Media Right and Why for some great tips. I like the “Fan of the Week” strategy for engagement from the Zappos on-line shoe store.
The picture of the fan is selected by other users, and whomever wins gets to be the thumbnail icon for the page for the entire week. Most of the photos are of kids or pets in zappos shoe boxes–surely kids in fire hats could compete with that!
You can also create games for your facebook page that teach emergency preparedness. If this is a tall order for your small staff then crowdsource the task to the public. Talk with your local high school computer teachers about a contest for the creation of a game–the winning game gets to be on the page. Even if it doesn’t turn out as sophisticated as this example from the Cranium facebook page, you could still accomplish your goal of community involvement. Whoever participates in development would be learning the information as well, and that is just an added bonus!
5. Clearly define your mission, purpose of your page, and “house” rules.
Having great content is important, but there are folks that will muck-up your page if you are not clear about the rules of the road. I’m speaking about people placing advertisements, swearing, posting really inappropriate content, or harassing other users. If this kind of behavior is allowed, then you could loose your audience. I understand that this might not be an issue if you only have a few hundred users, but I implore you to think strategically. If you ever have a crisis your number of users will sky-rocket, so put your policies in place now.
I would make the rules their own tab, visit the CDC’s comment policy on their facebook page for a good example. The QPS Media page also has a great policy statement which has been refined after a year of heavy use and 180,000 fans.
I hope some of this information helps. Good luck! Let me know if you are doing something great and I’ll be sure to highlight it.
- 6 Keys to the Social Media Kingdom of Success (businesssocialmediacoaching.com)
- What is your social media policy? (insights-group.com)
- Social Media & Content Marketing Strategies for Malpractice Insurance Providers (tommartin.typepad.com)
- How Retailers can improve on their Social Media Strategy (007helen.wordpress.com)