In this post, we asked Kara Sokol, Communications Manager for the City of Ferndale, to share her tips for cities looking to improve their social media presence. Here’s what she had to say.
A good social media presence is like your front office or customer service desk; you’ll be asked questions about which you know nothing, you’ll sometimes be criticized and yelled at, and you’ll provide a lot of the same information over and over.
Just like a real service desk, social media is most successful when you respond quickly, are friendly and professional, and keep your ego in check when it comes to negative reviews.
A few tips:
- Make a Plan: Create a social media policy that includes response turnaround time, a plan/schedule for off-hours engagement, and a plan for communicating during an emergency or crisis.
- Negativity is OK: Don’t delete negative posts or comments unless they violate your social media policy. Your residents should be free to express their opinions and feelings even if they make your organization look bad in the process. Also keep in mind that negative reviews can be great learning tools; ours have helped us make our forms and billing process more accessible and improve and customer service in specific departments.
- Keep Tabs on Other Conversations: Don’t forget about accounts other than yours–we urge people chatting in public social media groups, on blogs, on videos, etc. to tag us in conversations if support is needed, and we’re happy to jump in and provide information.
- Make it Personal: Additionally, a unique piece of our social media plan is that I also engage with our audience via my personal accounts. From my frequent involvements in social media groups and conversations as Kara, not as the City of Ferndale, residents began to see me as a source of information and a friendly face, and I started receiving dozens of private messages and friend requests. I welcome it–it’s just as easy for me to communicate through my personal accounts, and I’m comfortable without boundaries. 🙂 It has given the City a face, and given residents a personal resource.
Kara Sokol has worked in marketing and communications for more than ten years, specializing in organizational writing and brand/tone development. S
he has been with the City of Ferndale as Communications Director since 2014. She earned her B.A. in English at Oakland University and her M.A. in writing from Northern Michigan University. Recent awards for Kara’s professional writing include a UCDA Shift Award and CASE Circle of Excellence. She considers herself a true social media junkie; loves memes and humor blogs, and wishes everyone would embrace the Oxford comma.