Social media quick wins part I: Getting started

Part one of three, this mini series looks at social media quick wins - how do you get it adopted into your organisation. There are still many in the public sector who don't value social as a communication channel and sometimes you have to think creatively - and logically - to get it noticed and embraced.

These posts came about following an interesting and engaging day at Mobile Citizens in Birmingham which was hosted by Public Sector Forums. I thought about the session that came about around social media quick wins. It raised some good questions around how you can prove the effectiveness of social media and what measurements you can use.

Measurement and evidence of success means different things to different people. Here are my top ten things to think about when trying to land the new social media policy, guidance or argument for using it in your organisation with the key decision makers;

  1. Define what success looks like to everyone. This will look different to everyone involved in the process. Is it reducing costs or posts elsewhere? Helping residents find something more easily, getting feedback about a new service? Once you know what you, others and the organisation want to get out of it (or you can at least hazard a guess) you'll be on your way to working out what success is. It could be as simple as 'post one link to our website every day'.
  2. Establish a start point. You can't say how far you've come until you've clearly identify where you started. This could literally be 'On x date, we had x Twitter accounts with x followers and x retweets. Each of these accounts was being used by x number of staff'. 
  3. Make it clear that success is movable and contextual. Whose context are you going to put this in? It's about how you frame it. 
  4. Think about them, not you. You know what your success story would look like but the sooner you understand what your internal audience expect and want, the better. It may sound manipulative but there's no point chucking a load of figures at someone who just wants to see that something has changed or improved upon by using social media
  5. Make it human. It's about the message not the medium - simplify it from the off and don't bamboozle people into a decision. They will shy away when they don't understand something. Make it clear, understandable and concise. If you have to give examples like 'Twitter is the phone for a new generation' then do it. Don't feel ashamed to do so - not everyone gets it, which is why you're having to work hard to prove it has a place in your organisation.
  6. Think about learning styles when presenting your findings. Everyone learns differently and everyone processes information differently. Key facts, simple diagrams and case studies work - but make sure you back up with passion. No one wants to buy into something presented by someone who obviously doesn't care.
  7. Get an end user in as an advocate - having someone who has seen first hand the benefits of social is so powerful. Each one of them can tell a story and this will be more Impactive than showing someone what reach a certain tweet achieved. Reach means nothing to someone who doesn't understand Twitter in the first place.
  8. If it's all about cost benefits, then show it. Do some sums and show it in the most simple and effective way possible. If you can prove proactive social searches reduce call volume, do so and present it as a benefit even if it might be some initial time or resource investment.
  9. Look at long term and worst case scenarios. If you're bidding for budget then you need to show what would happen if they didn't adopt a decent social media management tool or training - can your organisation take the hit of a legal challenge financially which could ultimately costs ten times more than the tool that would have prevented it in the first place?
  10. Use like for like case studies. Show where orgs that are similar to yours have done well - and also not so well. By showing you understand the risks, you are more likely to convince people you are a safe pair of hands. Showing how Coca Cola achieved global brand success using social is like comparing apples and oranges. You have to manage expectations otherwise you'll never get past the starting blocks.

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