Since social media hit the internet in the 90s, it’s evolved from a personal network to a multi-billion-pound commercial channel. Many local councils have embraced social for all its wide-reaching benefits. But with multiple customer-facing accounts, local government departments need to get strategic in managing their online presence in this fast-paced arena.
This is where ‘enterprise social media’ comes in. This is, essentially, a different way of managing social media for a complex organisation, with multiple audiences and varied objectives – like a council.
Let’s look at why the enterprise approach is particularly relevant for local government.
From litter to libraries (and everything in between)
Firstly, local councils tend to have a varied portfolio of services to look after. It’s a challenge to manage comms for assets as diverse as tourist attractions, bin collections and libraries – because the audiences using them are hugely diverse, probably overlap, and feel differently when they engage with different parts of a local authority’s offering.
A typical local government body can be responsible for up to 40 social media accounts, with 200 people on the team posting and engaging at any one time.
Using social media management technology to deliver enterprise social media keeps the different faces of local governments on-brand.
For instance, the marketing team can keep comms consistent by creating guidelines for brand tone and terminology. This can then be tailored to the account and circumstances, to encourage engagement and give customers the best possible experience.
Imagine a local leisure centre posting timetables for school holiday activities – they’d benefit from a chattier message than, say, a highway maintenance notice telling commuters about roadworks.
This flexibility allows varying audiences to be served with the complex, dynamic range of messaging that local governments need to communicate – and it’s enterprise social media that makes it happen.
Bumps in the road
Just as important is how a council maintains high standards when dealing with complaints. Some organisations consider complaints to be the downside of social media’s visibility. But they can also be regarded as an opportunity for councils to flex their service muscles, with high quality, well-thought-out, complaint responses.
Using the right software, governments can set up approval chains so that responses to sensitive or difficult topics are reviewed by a manager before going live. It’s actually quite a straightforward thing to do – that involves creating a bank of words or phrases that automatically require user-level approval before replies are posted. But it can have a huge impact on engagement quality and help to boost reputation.
Because, as with any large public-facing organisation, it’s important to maintain, and nurture, a good public image. Upholding standards across a local government’s social media accounts ensures residents get the service they need.
And that’s not all: monitoring and oversight like this is particularly important during elections, when stringent regulations must be met in all communications.
As high-profile, publicly-funded bodies, local governments need to be mindful of how they manage their complex social media interactions to deliver the best possible service to tax payers. Using a social media management platform can go a long way to help with this, by giving councils the control and flexibility they need, with a tailored enterprise approach.
Find out more about how enterprise social media can improve communications with our handy download The Complete Guide to Enterprise Social Media.