5 Steps to Creating Awesome Social Media Content for Government (with no time or team!)

Hundreds of government employees tuned into a webinar on July 8 focused on how to create content for social media (with a focus on doing it quickly, yet strategically).

I hosted the webinar, and I have a theory on why it was so popular. Although there are a lot of introductory social media webinars out there (I’ve hosted them myself!), no one is really focusing on ‘content strategy’ for local government in a big way. Nearly everyone recognizes the value of social media in the public sector, but how do we get the most bang for our buck with our limited resources?

Watch the webinar replay here and weigh in on the conversation with your own ideas!

Webinar Replay

Twitter's New Look

3 Things Governments Should Do with the New Twitter Design

Twitter recently unveiled a new look – and here’s what you need to know if you manage a Twitter account for a government agency.

1. Optimize Your Images

Header Image on iPhoneFirst of all, your existing profile picture (probably your agency’s logo or official seal) is going to automatically stretch proportionally to fit the larger 400×400 pixel size. You might not even have to update it, unless the resolution looks grainy – an indicator that you need a larger size. Continue reading

LOTR wedding

Changing Your Name on Social Media

I recently got married (in an awesomely nerdy LOTR* themed wedding) and changed my last name from Fifelski to my husband’s last name, Dalton. Legally changing your name and dealing with altering it on your driver’s license, passport, debit cards, online billing, etc. is quite a process. However, this process was equaled in tediousness when it came to changing my digital footprint on social media. Continue reading

Podcast

Is Podcasting Social Media?

As you develop your agency’s social media strategy for 2014, should you add podcasts to your playbook? Guest contributor Mark Fletcher talks about podcasting as a way to reach your audience. Listen to an audio version of this blog post –

By definition, according to Wikipedia, “social media refers to interaction among people in which they create, share, and/or exchange information and ideas in virtual communities and networks.” While most people would think that ‘interaction’ portrays a two-way conversation using the originating media, I will argue that any conversation that is sparked by a ‘media interaction’ should be considered as social media, as well as the original media content.

Actually, Podcasting is really nothing more than a form of “audio blogging.” For the past four years I’ve produced podcasts on a weekly basis, delivering them in three multimedia formats; MP3 audio podcasts, a written blog, and occasionally a YouTube video which may or may not include additional graphical elements. Continue reading

Collage of Cute Pets

Cuteness Pays Off in Animal Shelter Social Media

Dogs are a man’s best friend, but they certainly aren’t cheap. Just ask any pet owner! The cost of food, supplies, medicine, and vet appointments for dogs, cats, and other “fur babies” can definitely add up!

Animal shelter employees and volunteers undoubtedly understand all of the costs associated with taking care of animals. Shelters—which can be non-profit entities or government-run departments—house, feed, and care for homeless, lost, and abandoned pets, often with limited budgets. The success of most animal shelters depends on government funding or grants, donations from the public, and the assistance of unpaid workers.

Shelters must continually strive to increase both pet adoptions as well as monetary donations, and social media is helping many animal shelters do both. Continue reading

Zombie Preparedness

5 Government Agencies Using Zombies to Raise Awareness

People just can’t get enough of zombies these days. These walking corpses with a hunger for human flesh are so popular, in fact, that they’ve become the focal point of video games, books, and even advertisements in addition to horror movies and gory television shows.

Companies such as Honda, Sears, and FedEx, just to name a few, have launched zombie-themed marketing campaigns, but you may be surprised that several public sector entities have also put zombies to work. Many of these campaigns involve social media. Continue reading

Typing on computer

Should every department have its own Facebook page?

One of the questions I hear all the time – perhaps even most frequently – is whether or not every department should have its own Facebook page.

The question typically comes from staff responsible for coordinating the agency’s social media presence (commonly they reside in the executive office, public communications office, or web/IT). They keep getting requests from various departments that want to start their own Facebook pages. It seems like a good thing and a bad thing all at once.

Continue reading

Screenshot of AT&T's TV Commercial - It's Not Complicated "More"

Taking the shiny out of social

We’ve all seen the AT&T commercial where the little girl explains in the simplest terms why more is better than less; “We want more, we want more. Like you really like it, you want more”. Too often social media falls into this category, and there is certainly no shortage of platforms clamoring for our attention. But before you run to your leadership demanding presences on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest and Instagram ~ I dare you to ask yourself “why?” Continue reading

Twitter Custom Timeline

How can government use the new Twitter Custom Timeline?

Twitter announced a new ‘custom timeline’ feature this November. It’s a way to create a collection of tweets surrounding a particular topic, or tweets by certain people, or tweets using a particular hashtag, etc. The point is that you can customize the timeline in almost any way you want, give it a title, and embed it on your website. Let’s explore how government might be able to use this feature. Continue reading

Twitter Alerts Illustration

Twitter’s New Advice for Government Features Info on Twitter Alerts

It was reported last week that Twitter released a new best practices guide, part of which covers advice for government agencies using Twitter.

The section features a lot of old news that we’ve heard before – like advice on using photos and ensuring website integration. However, the best part about the new section is the comprehensive information on Twitter Alerts. The value of this new alert feature is that your tweets can appear on subscribers’ phones as SMS notifications when you mark the tweets as an ‘alert’. They will stand out in the timeline as well – marked with an orange bell. Continue reading

Kristy Fifelski reporting to City of Reno Council in 2010

Celebrate Social Media Success with Management & Elected Officials

We’re all pretty good about sharing tweets and Facebook posts that commend our agency for doing something well. After all, we want other citizens to see that we’re really helping.

Facebook post from citizen
Post from citizen on City of Reno, NV Facebook page. (click to enlarge)

But don’t forget to share those successes inside your agency as well. It doesn’t have to be an incredibly formal report (like the presentation I gave in the photo to Reno City Council), but even something like a quick email helps. Perhaps you can reserve an area on your employee intranet or internal news blast. Continue reading

New Google+ Cover Photo Size

Google+ finally gets rid of gigantic cover photo

Have you noticed that the cover photo size on Google+ profiles isn’t so darned huge anymore? It used to display at 2120×1192 pixels, which took up the entire page of some computer screens and made virtually all of your posts hard to view without scrolling.

The cover photo size was a popular complaint – and it was difficult to find a high quality image that would look great in the space, particularly for government agencies. Luckily, Google recently unveiled a new, much smaller cover photo size. You can still upload the larger size, but with the 16:9 aspect ratio it is proportionally resized – 557×314 on my screen. Don’t worry about needing to replace your image right away, as old cover photos are resized to fit well in the space.

You may also notice that your agency’s name, website url and circle info appear in a blurred box to the left of your cover. It’s actually on top of another version of your cover photo, but the effect isn’t weird. These are good changes, but you still have to consider the circular profile picture. You’ll still want to add some additional blank space around your official logo to make it completely viewable when it’s cropped to a circle.