As agencies step up their social media presence, they should consider these lessons from fellow feds who have gone before them.
With a few easy steps, federal departments can do more to boost their social media presence with best practices for organization, configuration and design, according to a new report from Foresee Results research firm.
All 15 Cabinet-level agencies are using the three most popular social media sites — Facebook, Twitter and YouTube — and could see even greater results for their efforts by taking advantage of lessons learned by other agencies, Larry Freed, president of ForeSee, wrote in the Oct. 25 report.
Nearly half of the 15 departments have more than a single account on each social site. Some have two or three accounts each on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. This happens because agencies within each department may have their own sites, or there may be separate accounts for specific promotional campaigns, for individual executives, or for special populations served, such as job seekers or retirees.
Here are ForeSee's tips:
1. Create an aggregate Web page that lists all the social media accounts. That gives visitors an overview of social media activity for the department and help people who may not be aware of the multiple accounts and connections. The list should include a set of clearly-labeled links, usually in the form of icons, to all active social media accounts.
2. Include instructions to users encouraging them to click on the links. The instructions could read “Stay Connected” or “Connect With Us,” which helps members of the public understand the purpose of the links.
3. Use conventional icons for common social platforms so visitors can easily recognize them.
4. Customize social profiles with a recognizable color, design or other unifying visual theme. All 15 federal departments have customized their Twitter profiles, for example. This includes changes such as adding a color background, text or images, the study said.
5. To help the audience verify the authenticity of your Twitter account, display the “Verified Account” provided by Twitter. Fourteen of the 15 departments are already doing that.
6. Use the word “official” and the agency’s official logo in the account description and some form of the department’s official name in the Twitter handle.
7. Use the Twitter "favorite" feature to highlight content to help visitors connect with popular or important content. Favoriting can also serve as a repository of commonly-accessed information, such as tweets with links to news or other regular pieces published by the organization.
8. On YouTube, use playlists to organize videos thematically to help visitors locate content more easily. For example, group all official speeches or press briefings together.
9. Use Facebook applications such as Notes, Photos and Discussions only if they will be maintained on an ongoing basis. This to avoid frustrating visitors and providing an unsatisfying experience.
10. Use a separate tab on the profile page to describe policies on use, editing and deleting comments.
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