The What's, How's and Why's of Growing Your Lists: Part I

It’s the Golden Ticket: your subscriber list. Yet it can also languish while you attend to seemingly more important things. But in terms of importance, growing your list can lead you straight to the chocolate factory.

In this two-part series, we’ll cover the basics of growing your subscriber lists.

What: One-question surveys
How: Use questions that can be answered with yes, no, and maybe
Why: Within your constituent database, you should have 100,000 constituent contacts. Surveys go a long way towards getting there.

What: Use your data to the fullest
How: By micro-targeting and geo-targeting communities or people in your District. For example, if a Member visits an area in your district, why not send a targeted email to a non-subscriber letting them know?
Why: Targeting delivers local news to a subset of people and uses a mapping feature to see where you are hitting — and where you aren’t.

What: 360-degree communications
How: When someone answers a survey or clicks through to interact, email to thank them.
Why: Make people who interact feel special by keeping them on a list and giving them additional media so they become your very own messengers.

What: Facebook Sharing
How: Include your messengers prominently in your e-newsletters
Why: It makes them feel good and promotes further engagement.

The Rules of Engagement Social Media Tips, Part II

The word of the day is “engagement.” So how do we keep our constituents engaged in the Wild West of social media? Here are five more tips.

  • Encourage visits.Don’t just set up social media shop and then wait for the throngs to come. Instead, drive viewers through other channels, start a dialogue, and keep on keeping up with your e-newsletter.
  • Use appropriate content.It’s tempting to launch a press release on social media. But resist the temptation. Social media is meant for short, conversational content. So save your press releases for another channel.
  • Don’t overemphasize “likes.” Everyone wants to be liked. But the reality is that they are used so much, they’ve lost much of their value. Instead, focus on building relationships.
  • Connect your channels.If you have different people working on different channels, make sure the left hand knows what the right is doing. This means stay consistent and don’t have conflicting information.
  • Get started. The social media fad isn’t going to pass anytime soon. So get going, create a strategy, and stay involved in the strategy on an ongoing basis.

The Rules of Engagement Social Media Tips, Part I

Social Media is all about building relationships. Today’s viewers come to you knowing a lot more than they used to; in fact, they are driving the conversation like never before. So instead of bombarding them with overt messages, its your job to communicate — and listen.

Here are five basic tips:

  1. Avoid the fast balls. It’s so tempting to go straight for the pitch. Don’t use this kind of short-term thinking, warn the experts. Instead, spend your time cultivating relationships for the long-term, and allow the “pitch” to happen more authentically.
  2. Make it easy for constituents to engage. While you don’t want to give the hard sell, you don’t want to be impossible to find, either. Put a prominent link to your website and Facebook page, and make your calls to action inviting.
  3. Be consistent.  We’ve all known social media-ites who are very active for a few days, and then go dark. Avoid this. Commit to a regular schedule for blogging and posting, so your audience knows they can count on you.
  4. Be helpful. Many people come to social media when they have a problem they need help solving. Help people out, while quietly acknowledging your brand if it’s appropriate. People will eventually come to think of your office as helpful and engaged.
  5. Don’t ignore negative comments.  It’s easy to dismiss negative comments as the sole wacky opinion you’d rather not deal with. Even if this is true, be polite. Thank them for their input (unless it’s downright offensive and inappropriate), let them know their concerns have been heard, and assure them that you’ll do your best to address them.

See our next blog for more five more social media tips.

Facebook Pages Manager: Stay Organized And Informed on The Go

Managing multiple Facebook pages just got easier.

Facebook’s Pages Manager is a new app for the iPhone dedicated to supporting fan pages. The app gives page administrators tools to make it easy to, well, manage pages, as the name suggests.

With access to Facebook Insights for tracking analytics data about your page, administrators can get post and monitor pages, get notifications about a page, and track Insights like reach and engaged users. You can also post new updates and photos, and post and comment, and get notifications about new activity so you can respond wherever you are.

First launched in Australia, New Zealand and Ireland for iOS, the app is now available at iTunes

We want to know: How do you manage your Facebook pages?

Social Media Writing Matters

It’s easy to rattle off social media posts like you rattle off texts to your friends; casual, mistake ridden, full of odd abbreviations and punctuation.

Before you do that, remember that writing office-related social media is an entirely different audience. You need every advantage you can get online. Just because you are writing for social media, there’s no excuse for sloppiness.

We don’t mean to get all eight-grade English teacher on you, but grammar and style matters, even in Social Media. So here are a few tips to get to your goal: professional writing that uses words to enhance your image — not demote it. Here are a few tips:

  1. Get the book. The classic tomes of style are The Elements of Style, Associated Press Style Guide, and the Chicago Manual of Style. Or choose a more humorous one like The Elephants of Style. Choose one and stick to it.
  2. Write simply. You don’t need to dazzle with your language. Choose clarity, brevity, and readability. Write in a way that is accessible to the largest audience possible.
  3. Get help. Not everyone is born to be a writer or editor. Don’t be afraid to find someone who is more inclined to know — and even enjoy — the art of editing. There might even be someone on your staff who heeds the call.
  4. Use the tools. Most of us are well versed in spell-check, but how about the grammar tool? Turn it on.
  5. Watch your punctuation. We’ve all seen the possessive where is shouldn’t be (Shirt’s Sold Here!) Don’t fall prey!
  6. Read it aloud. Not sure if something is right? Read it to your office-mate to see how it flows.
  7. Use active language and colorful details. Instead of saying: Candidate X was in town today for a rally. Try saying Candidate X spoke in front to a roaring crowd today in a 1950s coliseum.
  8. Pay attention to tone.  Be nice, and polite, and professional.

Remember, short doesn’t mean sloppy.  Follow these tips to keep your image strong and professional. 

Email Marketing

Tempted to put all your resources into social media? Resist the temptation. Don’t forget the humble and trustworthy email newsletter. Email marketing isn’t a thing of the past. It’s a medium for the future. The facts don’t lie:

  • In the private sector, the ROI (return on investment) for email marketing was $40.56, according to the Direct Marketing Association.
  • Email drives social media and often is the number one reason people are visiting fan pages and returning to social networks, says ClickZ.
  • In 2006, 77 percent of subscribers said they received too many emails and promotions. However, in 2010, that percentage shrunk to 49 percent.

The bottom line: people are paying more attention to e-newsletters. Our guess is that email marketing is becoming more sophisticated — and so are readers.

The moral of this story? Don’t let social media hog the communications spotlight. Integrate the two for maximum impact. And remember that your e-newsletter is crucial; dedicate the necessary resources to make it relevant, timely, and professional. 

iConstituent Honored to Be Presenting at Social Media for Government Communications Conference

iConstituent's Public Sector Vice President, Blake Nelson, has been asked to speak at "Social Media for Government Communications: How To Engage Citizens & Increase Transparency Using The Latest Web 2.0 Technologies " September 18 – 21, 2012, in Washington, DC.  Several agencies are making dramatic strides in developing approaches and systems that work for them in their citizen engagement efforts. The periodic sharing of these experiences and "best practices" is an important element of this government evolution. That is why this information-packed and interactive training is a must attend to help you transform the way you communicate with citizens.

To get more information about the event or to register, see below or go to the conference web site at:  

A Summary of Blake's Presentation is Below:

More Than Just Checking A Box: How To Engage Your Citizens And Stakeholders Sincerely And Substantively Using The Latest Social Media Tools

Now more than ever government agencies need to engage citizens and be transparent about their activities and the services they provide to their constituents.  iConstituent has over 10 years of experience helping government entities reach out and engage with citizens and get them to take action. With experience in the Legislative and Executive branches of Federal Government and experience at the State and local level as well, this in-depth and exciting workshop will help you engage citizens using multiple digital channels and tools such as social media and email. 

This workshop will introduce you to a robust framework that will helps your agency get citizens the information they want and have them take action, as well as give your agency’s stakeholders a repeatable and flexible model to set their internal engagement policy and strategy, including:

  • Identifying your citizen stakeholders and getting to know your influencers and VIP’s
  • How to measure success and visualize the engagement to plan for next steps
  • Techniques to make your message simple and memorable
  • Ensuring that the message you put out delivers the substance your audience wants

WORKSHOP LEADER: Blake Nelson is Vice President of the U.S. Public Sector of iConstituent, LLC. As part of this experience, Blake has successfully led large sales engagements on high-profile, complex, large Federal sales opportunities. He holds more than 15 years of professional experience in enterprise systems sales and integration, technical architecture and business process design and improvement.

7 Steps to a Cool Facebook Photo Collage

Want to draw more attention to your posts? Try creating a big picture that will pop off the page. That’s the advice from Wise Metrics, which reports on step-by-step tips for manipulating photos on news feeds to turn three small photos into one big, eye-catching one. In the world of grabbing someone’s attention, every little bit counts. Here are the instructions, from Wise Metrics: 

  1. Resize your picture to 778 pixels wide.
  2. Put four vertical guides on your pictures at 241, 267, 510, and 536 pixels (x axis). These guides represent the margins Facebook will insert between your pictures.
  3. Create a square selection of 243×243 pixels. Place it in the middle of your picture.
  4. Add a horizontal guide at the top of your square selection. You will now need to crop three 243×243 pixels square.
  5. Move your 243×243 square selection to the left edge of your picture. Make sure the top of your selection is right on the horizontal guide. Crop the first picture and save it (jpeg).
  6. Move your 243×243 square selection to the middle of your picture, between the horizontal guide and the second and third guide. Crop and save this new square picture.
  7. Move again your 243×243 selection and move it to the right edge of your picture. Crop and save.

Publish a new album in Facebook by adding your three pictures. Add the relevant text and description, and add links into the description field.