Get Exclusive!

How do you get people’s attention online? Make them feel like they are getting something exclusive. It sounds simple, yet it can be time consuming. But using exclusive content and images should be a key strategy for any communications department hoping to stand out from the crowd. Here are a few tips:

1.       Forgo Reposting

Sure it’s easy, and sometimes unavoidable, to re-post press releases or auto-post from other sources. But done too much, this can be damaging to your brand. No one wants to feel that they are an after-thought, or that what they are getting isn’t fresh.

What to do: When possible, write unique blogs and post directly to social media on topics that people can’t find anywhere else.

2.       Have a plan

When you have a content plan, you have consistency. And when you have consistency, your viewers know what to expect.

What to do: Schedule regular posts in different categories, such as Event of the Week, a chat session with constituents, or a Q & A with a staff member. You’d be surprised how easy this is with a little planning.

3.       Bring Events to Your Constituents

Not everyone can get to events. What could be more original than bringing events to your citizens?

What to do: Livestream your events, allowing your constituents to attend virtually, ask questions, and get involved.

4.       Get Behind the Scenes

It’s truly original to bring your constituents in behind the scenes. This gives them a sense of being an insider, and we all love that.

What to do: Post backstage pictures, silly snapshots, blurbs of overheard conversations, and post real time mobile uploads.

Simplify with Online Forms

At any Congressional office, the requests never stop coming. How do I take a tour? What is the procedure for an internship? These questions go on and on.

That’s where the Constituent Gateway comes in.  We can help you manage these requests, and take the stress out. You can use our existing forms, or we can create any custom form specifically for the needs of your office workflow. Your imagination is the limit.

We offer two kinds of forms. Here’s what you need to know about them:

Gateway Forms

What it is: Create an unlimited amount of forms with this option, using the Gateway Forms folder type.

How it works: We store the data from these forms in the Constituent Gateway for viewing, which can be downloaded in an Excel doc or sent to a staff member in your office for review. New contacts are created with each submission, and existing contacts’ submissions will be noted on their detail page. Mailing lists can be created based on answers to questions on the form. We can integrate CAPTCHA, too.  Users can opt-in to mailings when submitting their form.

Custom Forms

What it is: Just like the name implies, these are custom-made forms that we help you set up.

How it works: The data from these forms can be sent to a staff member’s inbox or integrated with a CRM system, such as the Constituent Gateway CRM. Custom forms give a high degree of flexibility in terms of layout, styling, data validation and verification, and question types. We can integrate CAPTCHA and can also add a zip code authorization form, and limit the number of characters accepted.

Unsure of which would work best? Give us a call.

To learn more about our forms, please contact support@iconstituent.com.

Back to Blog Basics

Your blog is a chance to express your identity, get personal, keep readers informed, and hone your voice. Like a garden, make sure you are paying enough attention to your blog, which has the potential to wither without proper upkeep. Keep it interesting and fresh, and since posts remain up for an indefinite amount of time, you will reap the benefits for months or even years to come. Here are a few reminders:

It Takes A Village

Even if you have a dedicated blogger, don’t leave him or her out in the cold. Make it clear to staff that everyone is expected to come up with ideas. Offer incentives for people to submit ideas that get published, and reward those who are consistent about being steady about it.

Know the Stats

Make it a regular practice to look at the statistics for your blog. When you know how it is performing, when it gets the most traffic, and what blogs are the most popular, you can tailor your strategy.

Invite Guests

Take the time to invite guests to the party. This means planning ahead and engaging guest bloggers who you think will help keep your content fresh and interesting.

Moderate Your Comments

A major benefit of a blog is that it creates a conversation; a major drawback is that comments can often be out of line. Choose a blog comment policy — which could include guidelines on whether you accept anonymous comments, a procedure for responding to irrelevant material, etc. — and stick to it.

Web Governance: The Documents You Need

Now that you know the three crucial steps for web governance, it’s time to drill down. The first organizing principle for your web governance strategy? Your governance documents. It’s important to have a written record of your strategies, organizational structure, policies, and procedures. Once you have these in place, you’ll have a common language and a place to revisit when things are working well — or when they aren’t.

Here are a few examples of the kinds documents you might need; of course, each organization will need to tailor them to your specific needs, staff, and stakeholders. By answering the questions below, you’ll start to forge a clear pathway toward transparent and efficient governance.

Web Strategy
What is your current situation? What is your mission? What are your goals? How you plan to reach your goals?

Roles, Organization, and Management
Who is responsible for what? What are the specific job titles and what tasks are the responsible for?

Content Management
What are the procedures for posting content, social media, linking to external content, and removing content?

Web Policies and Procedures
What are the guidelines that must be followed? What is your infrastructure? What are your governance principles?

Once you’ve answered these questions and gotten your documentation in place, create a plan for who will see it. Should you post it on your website, or distribute it internally? Finally, think of these documents as a work in progress, and revisit them early and often.

Terms of Service Agreements for Social Media

When it comes to social media, government entities have special requirements. The fact is that the standard Term of Service (TOS) agreements are most likely incompatible with law and regulations. If you are using social media to connect with your constituents, do outreach, and raise awareness, your organization needs to know how to stay within the guidelines.Federal Government

1.  Federal Government
Term of Service agreements are negotiated between the federal government and companies who offer free social media services. In an effort led by GSA, a coalition of agencies has developed federally compatible TOS agreements. Visit HowTo.gov’s list of negotiated agreements to learn more.

2.  State and Local Government
The major social media outlets have negotiated agreements with the help of National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) and the National Association of Attorneys General, on behalf of state and local governments. Here’s a rundown of the terms they incorporated to reflect the needs of government:

3.  Federal Agencies
If you need help understanding how to manage your TOS agreements, log into the Max.gov wiki.