Creating added value through online presence
Social channels have long been an integral part of private everyday life – whether Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Twitter, XING, LinkedIn and and and. For many, looking at these apps is directly linked to the start of the day and is more than just a source of information.
Public offices, authorities and administration have also recognized the advantages of social media as a communication platform . The use of social networks promotes digitization in administration , dialogue with citizens and the rapid dissemination of information that offers added value to the population.
In contrast to companies, where the social media presence is mainly used as a marketing tool, in public administration the sharing of relevant information is in the foreground. In addition, a “community” and exchange with citizens is created , which was not possible before.
Social networks create closeness
Accompany the mayor’s working day? Follow local party projects online? With the right social media presence, this is possible. On the one hand, this can be very entertaining, but above all it creates citizenship and trust .
With so many people spending their time online, social media channels are one of the most important virtual meeting places. In addition to the advantages mentioned, this also means certain expectations and challenges for the new digital administration .
To ensure that the public appearance is successful, we will show you the advantages and challenges and have tips for successful implementation.
1. Social media: advantages for offices and authorities
Even without an active public presence , you can be found online in some form as a public authority. It therefore makes sense to proactively design your own appearance, maintain content yourself and not leave this to others. Although this involves additional work, it also offers great opportunities.
Target groups are reached
Since the sharing of information is particularly important for public authorities, the advantage of a social media platform is that it can reach the broad masses of the population . This now applies across all sections of the population: social networks have long been familiar to young and old alike.
Build trust in the authority
In addition, you create great trust in yourself and your officials. This occurs when the population can have a say and is listened to. Questions can be asked and suggestions, wishes and praise can be communicated on the various social media channels . Citizens are given the opportunity to express themselves and actively help shape the local community.
By spreading knowledge about the processes and actions of the public institution, understanding is created that strengthens credibility and ultimately trust in the authority.
Fast & reliable dissemination of information
Especially in times of “fake news” it is important that correct information is distributed as quickly as possible. Especially in times of crisis, when false reports are circulating on the internet at lightning speed, it is important to ensure that information is disseminated quickly. The advantage: News that is mistakenly presented as fact can be corrected at an early stage.
Nowhere can content be shared faster than on social media. This becomes important if you, as an authority, want to comment on current reports or position yourself. With a view to e-government and the publication of information, social networks are ideal for “extending” content:
2. Challenges in using social networks
Technical and human resources
One thing is clear: every advantage also brings challenges. First of all, the technical equipment should fit in order to be able to create content for your own profile at all. Is the basic digital equipment correct ? Are there programs available for image editing or video editing? Or partners who support the implementation?
The aspect of human resources and skills should also be examined. Are there employees who already have experience in this area? Should further training courses be attended? In this context, proper project management is an advantage so that costs, time and goals are balanced as best as possible.
As a public institution, accessibility is particularly important. When creating social media content, it is important to ensure that everyone can interact with it. Users should not be dependent on outside help.
For accessibility when creating content , you should pay attention to the following:
- Adjusting the corresponding alternative texts for images
- Add subtitles to videos
- Avoid using the colors “red” and “green” in infographics
- Provide sign language interpreters for live video
- Adding image descriptions under images and graphics
Secure data protection
In connection with social networks, data protection is an issue, as many of these networks operate in gray areas in terms of data protection law . As a public administration, you should deal with the data protection regulations in order to clarify which platforms or which functions are even possible.
Most networks collect data and information about you as a user and about your target audience. If you have any questions, feedback from experts is helpful as to which social media activities can be used without worries and how the networks should be configured.
3. Which social media platform is the right one?
With the decision to set up a social media presence, the question arises as to which network is actually suitable. The social platform with the most users is Facebook . The platform is used by 2.740 billion people worldwide . This is also where the focus lies with the public administrations. However, there are other channels that should not be neglected.
However, there are also a number of other popular networks. However, the following applies: Quality comes before quantity , so that professionalism is not lost. Depending on the platform, you can also reach users with different types of posts and media, so that dialogue is best established if you adapt your communication to the respective network.
Keep an eye on trends and new functions . You can now start your own live streams on many platforms and present press conferences, announcements or celebrations first-hand, for example . A question and answer session with the mayor? Pictures from the reopening of the swimming pool? This also enables direct exchange with citizens in real time, which creates closeness and strengthens the sense of community.
4. Five tips for a successful start
- Define target group: who should be addressed? Before you start creating content, you should determine who you want to reach. Content and the network must be tailored to the target group.
- Create relevant content: What content is interesting for the audience? Which tone should be chosen for the speech? Above all, the content should be of high quality and tailored to the target group. It should offer added value and new knowledge in order to ultimately increase the reach.
- Use images and videos: Pay attention to the professionalism and uniqueness of images and videos. Visual content can be better absorbed and processed by the brain. There are no limits to creativity and the use of the right tools.
- Choosing the right timing: When is the ideal time to “post”? That depends very much on the platform you are posting on. Important here: content should be shared regularly. Insights that can be used to track user activity are helpful.
- Adapt posts to the platform: The motto applies here again: Quality comes before quantity. Not every post fits all channels. The content should be prepared individually.
5. Establish everyday digital life in public institutions
In the meantime, social networks in public service can no longer be ignored. Whether you are present or not – you and your (digital) community are also being talked about and discussed on social media. Public administrations should take advantage of online profiles and the opportunities they offer to rectify incorrect information or take a position .
With the observance of certain rules and sensitivity for the various platforms, the appearance for public authorities also works without any problems . The right social media tools and a trained team provide support for publications.