Social Media Best Practices for Congressional Offices
In this digital age, social media presence has become a critical component to building a brand. Whether you're starting a small business or running a Congressional office, chances are you're on social media. In fact, according to Quorum, members of Congress posted from official social accounts over 500,000 times in 2018. If you combine this with Pew Research Center's finding that about half of Americans have engaged in civil or social activism via social media (as of 2018), it's easy to see how platforms such as Twitter or Facebook can be tools for political change.
And, because this technology is so new and ever-changing, there's not necessarily a guidebook telling you what to do. Despite the unpredictable algorithms and analytics, social media strategy is much more simple than it may seem. For instance, take the big three: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. While they all serve very different purposes, the basic steps to gaining a following on each platform are fundamentally the same. Here are three strategies to maximize your time spent on social media.
On social platforms with mysterious and ever-changing algorithms, the best way to get exposure is to post consistent and quality content. But don't just post anytime, it's important to plan your posts strategically, by targeting the times and days of the week that your audience is most active. As a general rule of thumb, you want to post when users are likely to be scrolling on their phones, such as before and after work hours or around lunch time. For example, a consistently good time to post would be at noon on weekdays. To help you stick to this targeted time, always try to schedule out a content calendar. Even if you don't know exactly what you're going to post, you can set reminders for important events or information about issues important to your Member.
As you start to post regularly, you may notice that some posts receive more engagement than others. There can be a lot of reasons for this, but one of the most obvious is that engagement may depend on the type of content you're posting. Does it include images or a link? Hashtags? Your followers may be drawn to different types of content, so it's important to vary your posts.
2. Engage Meaningfully
Just as it is important to post on a regular basis, it is also important to engage on a regular basis. After all, social media is social by nature. Another Pew Research Center study shows that a majority of Americans see social media as a tool for publicizing worthy causes and gaining the attention of elected officials. Therefore, liking, sharing, or retweeting are all ways to point your followers to the other content and accounts that you support.
However, the truly meaningful part of engagement happens when you respond to individual comments or direct messages. Commenting and messaging are much more personal forms of communication on platforms where it's easy to feel overwhelmed. Responding to a follower's reply or DM will show that you took the time to address their concern and will help you build a relationship with that person. Furthermore, taking the time to communicate with your followers individually will help to create a community on the platform.
IQ users can easily monitor what is going on in their accounts through the social media stream and respond to incoming social messages all directly within IQ. Whether someone tweeted at you or sent you a direct message, these interactions can all be stored and connected to an IQ contact record for future reference.
3. Track Analytics
The only way to know if your content is reaching your audience is by checking analytics. Analytics are readily available on most social media channels, including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and are usually pretty easy to interpret. Luckily for IQ users, all of your social media analytics can be viewed within IQ, so you can find the stats on your reach and engagement all in one place.
You may ask, why do I need analytics when I can easily see how many likes and shares I got by looking at the original post? Well, analytics reports are also going to tell you the hidden numbers of a post, i.e., how many people saw the post and didn't engage with it. If 10 interacted with your post and only 12 people saw it, then that's a great engagement rate. But, if your post only got a couple engagements and it was seen by thousands of users, then you may have a problem.
Another reason to track analytics is bench-marking. Tracking your reach can help you set goals, such as growing your audience or increasing your engagement, and keep you accountable for achieving those objectives. If you are losing followers or your engagement is decreasing, being on top of your analytics can also help you catch problems and capitalize on opportunities.
Maintaining a strong social media presence is easy, yet often undervalued. Unlike designing a new website, building your brand on social media is a process that is never fully complete. There's no doubt that you'll meet obstacles along the way, but using social media to communicate with your constituents can go a long way towards gaining their trust. Spending a little time every day to create a strong community on your social channels will show that your office is accessible to the people it serves.
Want to learn more about how IQ can help you build your social media presence and engage with your constituents? Contact us for a demo today.