Earlier this week, APCO Worldwide and Diplomat Magazine hosted a well-attended breakfast event in London, featuring Matt Bostrom, social media expert and senior director of APCO Online, as the guest speaker. Matt shared his insights on how diplomats, embassies and governments could best use social media to achieve their communication goals. Here are his ten tips for governments and embassies looking to use social media in the most effective way. Read them here and download the graphic version at the end of this post.
1. Have a plan. The best communications start with a solid plan. Social media is no different. Planning needs to include consideration of the audience, differentiation, potential issues, and content.
2. Think about a topic of focus. It is difficult to cut through the clutter without any clear focus. Establishing a topic of focus based on your expertise will help you build a following more quickly.
3. Give and take. This is a dialogue, not a broadcast. A great way to build a following is to ask questions of your followers and answer questions they have. Invite them to ask questions.
4. Bring out your personality. Do not try to be funny if you are not funny. Do not simply broadcast news from official sources/channels. Personality goes beyond just writing in the first person; someone that follows you should get a sense of your personality.
5. Diversify channels. There is no point in setting up a specific social media channel just for the sake of it. With a good plan, you’ll know the audience you want to reach. The key is to be on the channels they are on. Don’t be afraid to experiment and try something new.
6. Provide calls to action. Ask your audience to do things. Share their thoughts, attend events, advocate or contribute stories. Build a bridge between your online audience and your offline world.
7. Share specific insights or newsworthy events. You can give your social media audience a reason to follow you by breaking news or sharing items first through social channels.
8. Train staff. It is important that the staff who support social media are well-trained in communications, social media, and crises. They should know what to do in any circumstance.
9. Apologise when needed. So many issues that break online could be solved by a simple apology. Nobody expects perfection.
10. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. The largest companies and most social savvy governments in the world use outside resources to help them get it right. Don’t be afraid to ask for help inside and outside of the organization.
Matt Bostrom is a senior director at APCO Worldwide based in London. You can follow him on Twitter @mbostrom.