"@gretchen," Q&A: Getting Resources for Social




How can I get city government officials to understand the need for social media, and the necessity for pouring more resources into it?
~ Valleri Merrill



Hello Valleri,

Thank you for your question -- it’s a smart one. I understand how frustrating this task can be. In the early part of my career, I spent many years teaching the value of social to people who didn’t "get it" but held the purse strings.

The answer is 1) understand your overall business KPIs, 2) define your target audiences and messaging and 3) choose and prove which social tactics will solve the specific needs of the business (or city, in this example).

As one example, you might have an important initiative to increase water conservation behavior in your city. So, instead of pitching a high level concept about the need to increase social fan/follower counts for the City government pages, you could demonstrate a specific social tactic that would help drive awareness and activity around water conservation.

Next, you would identify the target audience and messaging for this initiative. Can you determine the demographics of the households which are not conserving enough water? Defining specific audiences will help you create messaging customized to their needs. For example, if college students are your target audience, you will want to communicate differently than if senior citizens are your target audience.

After you have defined your audience, you can choose which social network and content type would best reach and engage this audience. For younger audiences, Twitter, Instagram and Viddy are popular, but with over 1 Billion people and hyper-targeted advertising options, Facebook is often the best platform to start.

Let's say in this example, you choose Facebook because it's the best fit for your audience. You could create a Page post with your key messaging and then Promote that post into an engagement ad targeted to your specific audience demographics.

Next, you have two options:

1) Find published examples of successful work meeting these goals (here are 105 Facebook advertising case studies).

2) Run a small, affordable test to prove your tactic will work in this capacity.

For number 2, you will want to create a baseline to determine how well these goals are being met currently, and then measure your test regularly to see if you can see any changes & correlation. The gold is always in the data and you can learn a lot from very small data sets.

Please, note, all the data in the world won’t help prove social is a good use of resources if it doesn't meet the specific goals of the decision-makers. Once they see social channels are a good place to grow their business, they will be more willing to invest. And once you have some tactical successes, you can start working on a larger strategy for the organization.

I hope this is helpful, Valleri. I am interested to hear from other social professionals on this topic, as well. Anyone have a different approach?

(Questions can be submitted through my contact page. Please, write “ANONYMOUS” at the top of the message if you don’t want me to mention your name.)

By Gretchen Fox, Social Architect at grtchnfx




Posted on February 21, 2013 .