The Stats: Social Media and Government

What kinds of social media do public officials use? A recent survey by GOVERNING Exchange set out to answer that question. They asked 164 members about the kinds and frequency of social media use. The results showed that Facebook was the clear winner for personal use, while LinkedIn was the most commonly used for businesses. The relatively new Pinterest is still being discovered. Sixteen percent of respondents said they don’t use social networks at all, while 17% said someone else manages their social media accounts.

Here’s the stats:

Why do senior officials use social media?

  • Business 12%
  • Personal 27%
  • Neither 16%
  • Both 46%

Which platforms do they use most often?

  • Facebook: 44% business, 84% personal, 8% don’t use
  • Twitter: 36% business, 34% personal, 50% don’t use
  • LinkedIn: 44% business, 51% personal, 23% don’t use
  • Pinterest: 3% business, 21% personal, 77% personal

#1 Times to Engage Constituents

Sometimes constituents can seem elusive. You know they are out there, but not sure when or where. While there is no magic about when to engage your constituents, here are a few ideas to get you thinking.

#1 Circumstance: Emergencies

People flood to government websites when they need information on a specific area: think floods, fires, severe weather, tornados, and earthquakes. They think of you as a trusted source for information and assurance. Give them what they want by sending out an e-newsletter, with the opportunity to sign up for alerts and future communications.

 #1 Season: Wintertime

Stats show that people are more engaged in the wintertime. Maybe it’s the weather, or maybe it’s that this period coincides with winter service disruptions. Whatever the reason, take advantage of these wintertime habits with more frequent postings and e-newsletters filled with seasonal tips and information.

#1 Time: It Depends

Are Tuesdays are the best days to send an e-newsletter? Should you always post after 8 pm?  It would be nice to have a secret code. But the truth is, that it’s hard to tell. It depends on your constituents, your geography, and your forms of communication. The only way to know for sure is to segment your audience, and then test to see the times of the highest open rates.

Best Practices for Your E-Newsletter

We’re always looking for ways to help you spread your message. Your e-newsletter is the obvious place to start. By following these best practices, you’ll ensure that it stands out from the crowd and reaches the goal of consistently reaching more constituents. Take what you want, and leave the rest. (But we think they’re all worthwhile!)

Consistency. Publish weekly e-newsletters at the same day and time to build familiarity. Your readers will know when to expect it.

Test. To see when view rates are highest, sporadically publish e-newsletters at different times. Then you’ll have the information you need to know when exactly to send it out.

Time it right. The best times for sending your e-newsletter is first thing in the morning or late at night. But testing (see above) will help you pinpoint a more specific time.

Survey. Do a survey on every email to get people get engaged, build your opt-in list, and gather information on your constituents. Publish results in the following newsletter, keeping people coming back each week.

Target. Once you have enough information and a big enough list, send targeted emails to specific groups. They’ll appreciate your attention.

Map it. Integrate a Google Map so people know where to find you. You never know when this could come in handy.

Explain Yourself. Periodically take the time to address people who disagree with you, explaining your rationale while making them feel heard.

Promote Sharing. When someone shares over social media, send them a personal email thank you.  These individuals are your brand champions — take good care of them.

Six CRM Features You Might Not Be Using – But Should

The Gateway CRM is jam-packed with features that save you time. Are you using them to your best advantage? Here’s a rundown of some of the features that, once set up, will leave more productive time in your day.

  1. Fill-In Fields. By editing with these fields, you can personalize responses for multiple constituents.
  2. Keywords. Automatically sort and apply staff IDs and Interest Codes based on text of incoming messages.
  3. Correspondence Data Entry. Use this single screen for individual hard copy correspondence, faxes, and phone calls.
  4. Bucket Printing. Transmit all of your responses at once, instead of interrupting your day several times.
  5. Group Codes and Letter Codes. Create a naming convention to make searching easier.
  6. Mail Sorters: Flag “pro” vs. “con” so you can assign a Group Code all at once, instead of one at a time.

We want to know: What Gateway CRM features do you use that save you time?

Best Practices Checklist for Your CRM

Are you maximizing Workflow and Keywords? Are you staying consistent in your messaging across platforms? It’s always worthwhile to check. Get back to basics with this checklist for your CRM. You won’t be sorry you did.

Have you integrated your website? Create a form so constituents can Request Assistance from your website, allowing you to directly import their info into a subfolder for Casework.

Have you set quarterly database maintenance review dates? Inactivate outdated codes, keywords, and letters, and eliminate as many duplicates as you can.

Are you using Keywords? They allow you to automatically sort and apply staff IDs and Interest Codes based on the test of each incoming message.

Are you taking advantage of tags? Automatically sort incoming correspondence into subfolders to prioritize mail.

Are you staying on message throughout your platforms? Maintain the same message and voice for your websites, newsletters, and social media campaigns for consistency.

Is Workflow working for you? Electronically route and approve responses in the CRM and run reports on your pending letters to see who needs approval, how long they’ve been waiting, and who they are assigned to.

The Not-So Lazy Days of Summer

Summer always seems to whiz by. But don’t let it pass without engaging your constituents. While most of the country finds time to relax, spend time with family, and take a break from the everyday routine, you can stay busy delivering pertinent information, entertainment, and advice.

Take a visual diary. The cameras are continuously clicking during the summer; take a visual diary of events in your area, and encourage others to do the same. Then post pictures of summer fun on your Facebook page.

Focus on Safety.  Make your site the go-to place for vital information about severe weather, staying cool, fireworks, and resources for emergency services like the local Red Cross.

Follow Events. Use Facebook Events to keep your visitors up-to-date on exactly what events are happening in your area, and which you’ll be attending.

Take a poll. Get engagement with simple summer polls. Here are a few examples What are the best summer spots for vacation? What are your favorite beach reads?

What is your favorite thing to barbeque? Use your imagination and knowledge of your constituents to find the best ones

Solicit summer advice and information. Ask your visitors to post their favorite recipe, best Fourth of July memory, or most memorable summer vacation. Of course, share yours, too.

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

Here are even more tips on how to grow your subscriber list.

What: Share your e-newsletter
How: Use public links to publish your e-newsletter on social media networks
Why: The more exposure and the easier to share, the better.

What: Integrate your e-newsletter via Facebook
How: Facebook entries get sent directly to your Gateway List Manager
Why: This ensures signups are everywhere.

What: Pay attention to the most advantageous open times
How: Send email when people are most likely to read it
Why: Most unsubscribes happen on Mondays and Tuesdays; the highest open rates happen on the weekends and before 8 pm.

What: Make your emails worth archiving
How: Include more links and of course, relevant content
Why: Millions of users archive email.

What: Facebook Ads
How: Target and post them at prime times and with short, well-written contentWhy: They work!