Webinar presenter Kate Kimble answered a number of your questions after her presentation, "Social Media Bootcamp." Here are some of her responses.
Audience Question: Can you talk a little more about the process of creating those big-picture goals for social media in developing your content plan? Who was involved and what was considered?
Kate Kimble: I started as a bit of a one-man band here. My predecessor, who was the PIO, left about a year and a half before I started. We had two people just doing their best to keep our accounts running, but they had other primary jobs. I came in and started researching best practices of other organizations. I got a couple of guiding documents from other PIOs – PIOs in law enforcement are so willing to share our documents and strategies. There are no secrets. There’s a Government Social Media (GSM) group with multi-disciplinary organizations (so it's just all gov-stuff, not just police). They’ve got a Facebook group, and there's a lot of great idea sharing there, too. That was really my starting point for the process – learn what's important for other organizations. Then I took that into my own goals. This is what I wake up for every day – knowing that there are amazing stories that need to be told. We've got a community with a relationship with their police department, how did we achieve that and use that to write those guiding goals.
Audience Question: Did you develop a formal social media policy?
Kate Kimble: We have a social media strategy and we also have an SOP, as well as the policy manual for the organization with high-level guidance on social media. Social media changes so rapidly that you don't want to chisel it in stone because it will change before you finish. If you develop an SOP, that's a really good way to make a living document to guide your effort.
Audience Question: Do you recommend an agency to create their own videos or develop a professionally-produced video? What about the length of the video? Is there a length that's too long?
Kate Kimble: I use an iPhone for the videos. I wanted to get a more professional DSLR camera and I talked to our forensic services folks to see if they had a hand-me-down I could take. But they said, "Why don't you just get a newer iPhone?”, I got the 7+, which takes amazing videos. You can get a plug-in microphone. I know a lot of people in the industry using iPhones and tripods and a little mic hookup for twenty bucks to create videos. It's great to do it on the fly. If you've got a longer project, you might consider using your city cable channel or other outside source. But if you just want quick videos, for press releases or PSAs, you can easily do it yourself. We'll talk more about that in the August 28th seminar.
In terms of length, I try to keep everything under 90 seconds if possible. The internet has the attention span of a goldfish, so you need to keep it dynamic and make sure there aren't lags. Sometimes you might to go longer than 90 seconds, but you need to make sure the content is really good.
Audience Question: If you had to choose just one platform to be more effective for your agency, which one would you choose.
Kate Kimble: If I can define the purpose… Twitter is the best for reaching people in an emergency. If it's the emergency management side, Twitter — no question.
That it is a limited format, though, so if we're talking about engaging with the community and telling stories, it's Facebook. We have about 17,000 followers on Facebook, and it's a great place to tell stories. Facebook also provides a lot of support for different types of multimedia.
Audience Question: There are a couple kinds of Facebook pages out there, do you recommend linking a personal and a business Facebook page, or keeping them separate?
Kate Kimble: Facebook wants a real person to have a profile attached to a page. So, profiles belong to people, and pages belong to organizations. Depending on the state you're in, like in Florida where they have extensive open-records laws, the person who has the profile who manages that page, their personal page could potentially be subject to open-records laws. It’s a challenge because Facebook will crack down if you have a ghost account. I would say just really be careful. I have my personal one attached so I can manage it, but you can also set it up as a business profile. Then if you have a team, your team can just login using your team government email address. But you still need to have a profile attached to it.
Audience Question: Do you recommend customizing a post based on the platform, or is it okay to use the same post across multiple platforms?
Kate Kimble: Customize it per platform. The thing I am most challenged by on Twitter is when it says, "I posted on Facebook" and there's a link. It's important to take the extra couple of minutes, even if you're just copying and pasting content. Don't use hashtags on Facebook if you can help it, ever, because it doesn't help and sometimes it can hurt. Hashtags are ok on Twitter to have a couple of them, and you want to hashtag a lot on Instagram. Just take the extra minutes to customize, even if it's just to clean up your content a little bit.
Audience Question: Have you ever had issues or concerns with somewhat promoting private businesses, such as your post with Krispy Kreme? Have you had negative feedback doing that?
Kate Kimble: No, we try to be really careful. The donut post was done in jest; I don't think anyone's going to necessarily take that an endorsement of the business. Community members drop things off for us on occasion and we want to be able to thank them for their thoughtfulness. We try not to focus on promoting the business or linking to their Facebook page and make it more about, "Hey, we appreciate your support, kind words, stopping by," that kind of thing. We do have to be mindful of the way we talk about other organizations and make it clear that we're not soliciting their business or promoting them.
Audience Question: What do you think about tools like Hootsuite that offer to schedule posts? Do you have any best practices on using tools like that?
Kate Kimble: They can be incredibly helpful, especially if you are doing a whole bunch of jobs. They're helpful so you can stay consistent. Just don't schedule a year out in advance. If you've got a month where you keep in mind what you've got going on, go for it. (If you've got a month worth of content, more power to you because I have like maybe a week worth of content planned.) But know that if a major incident happens, you might need to stop scheduled content from publishing. Just be careful about that.
Use Facebook to schedule Facebook posts because Facebook is super finicky and does not play well with others. Facebook doesn't like it when you've got somebody outside of the house scheduling. You can do that natively in Facebook. I’d suggest using Hootsuite to schedule for Twitter.
Hootsuite and other scheduling platforms are also great for monitoring as well to see what's going on. It's not a necessity if you don't have the budget; you can try to make it work with a backup who can post for you. A few of the platforms do have free limited options. In terms of best practices, I'd say the biggest thing is know what you’ve got out there so that you can rein it back in if you need to.