Most employees are not directly involved in managing county social media or even contributing to content that is posted. That’s not necessarily a problem. Turning everyone loose to post and moderate the county Facebook page or Twitter account, raises legitimate concerns. Elected officials have to feel confident moderators and contributors are consistently following county social media policies.
Some county officials simply throw up their hands and say, “to heck with it,” feeling the bad outweighs the good when it comes to social media. But as traditional forms of media struggle financially – you can see an example of this in the Salt Lake Tribune’s move to close off their online free edition – more and more citizens are getting their news and information through social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.
Social media is not only a golden opportunity to communicate with the public, it’s becoming more and more necessary.
But hiring an individual or firm isn’t always an option. UAC has developed a partnership with The Dicio Group to help with this, and we encourage you to contact them. But if it just isn’t in the budget, consider creating an internal organized approach within your county.
Where to Begin
Like all initiatives, you need to get organized by creating a central committee for the county. Ideally, you would want representation from every department. For some counties this may not be possible due to size (too big or too small), but set up a provision for how committee members will be selected or assigned and where some type of representation can be maintained.
Who’s In Charge
Once you have a committee established that is committed to meeting monthly, set your existing or new accounts with the appropriate levels or permissions. Generally, there are three main roles to fill and certainly more than one person can be in each role. They are administrator, contributor, and moderator.
Administrators oversee the entire account and have access to changing settings and determining the roles of each person managing your social media. Contributors are those who add content to the page and should have a good handle on engaging writing and accurate information. And, finally, moderators actively visit the page each day to respond to questions or ensure content is not problematic.
It’s highly recommended that at least three to five are given full administrative status. This is to protect the account should one person either leave the committee or the county. Staffing levels for contributors and moderators will vary from county to county but the ideal would be to share the load across lots of people so there is a nice flow of consistent information and the burden doesn’t fall to just one or a few people.
Rules and Policies
If you don’t have a social media policy for posting content, it’s time to take that up. And your new social media committee is the best place to start. You should discuss and set rules for adding or removing staff, regularity of positing, types of content that will be posted, and much more.
Good social media management involves advance planning, but it also needs to address the unexpected. One of the best opportunities counties have for getting information out in an emergency is through social media, which itself necessitates a game plan.
There are lots of tools and resources in place to help your staff create and monitor content. Some of them are even free and will save you countless hours ensuring your social media accounts are robust with useful information and watched over carefully.
Among those are Google Alerts and another application called Mention. Both of them will send you daily or weekly emails of any mention in social media and even other places on the Internet of your county or a particular department. This can add an extra set of eyes and ears at no cost.