Facebook for Government, Business, Associations, and Non-Profits

Posted: February 10, 2011 in Business, Marketing, Newsrooms, Personal, Press Releases, SEO, Social Media

This morning PRSA NCC and Marketwire hosted an event focused on Facebook for Government, Business, Associations, and Non-Profits. As always PRSA NCC pulled in some industry leading social media practitioners to talk about how their organizations are leveraging this evolving communications tool.

Read Holman, New Media Strategist, US Department of Health and Human Services – @Readg
Steve Wymer, president, Senate Press Secretaries Association, communications director to Sen. Mike Johanns (R-NEB) — @stevewymer
Amy Ganderson, associate director of digital marketing, The Nature Conservancy – @amyganderson
Laura Hubbard, International CES, Consumer Electronics Association – @laurahubbard
John Wolf, senior director, public relations, Marriott International – @Marriottintl

We all know that Facebook is not just for your Kids anymore and businesses are looking to take advantage of this new opportunity to interact with their customers, clients, prospects, proponents, opponents, etc…

Steve Wymer kicked off the event talking about the use of FB in Government, let’s just say there is not a lot of use by Politicians. A couple good examples he gave for politicians using Facebook were John McCain and Claire McCaskill. Steve brought up a good point that “Social Media wants people to be authentic, but then you get in trouble for being real.” Steve also talked about how to deal with “negative” comments or discussions going down a slippery slope on Facebook and crossed over into Twitter as well. Essentially if a conversation begins to go down the wrong path try to jump in and moderate to get the conversation back on topic. If people are saying negative things on a consistent basis you should also use that material to put out a factual statement/post to help educate your fans. Another solution is to simply launch an all out assault of positive comments to drown out the negative. Now this is obviously not something that every organization should be doing, but in the Government space you can probably do it more frequently.

John Wolf followed Steve and gave one of the better lines I have heard in regard to not being in Social Media. He said “You are conspicuous by your absence in Social Media”. John also mentioned something I constantly bring up to clients/prospects in meetings about Social Media, he said “Social Media is a wonderful tool if it allows us to achieve our objectives”. While Social Media or Facebook to be more specific is a fantastic communications tool, it will be worthless if you do not have clear objectives/goals for why you want to be there. John mentioned that for every 10 messages/posts they get 9 of them are positive, now that is impressive and shows that Marriott knows what they are doing. The point was also made that your Social Media and Traditional Media should be integrated to form a cohesive communications plan. Overall I was very impressed with just about everything John said and it is very evident that he knows his stuff, which is why Marriott has had such Social Media success.

Amy Ganderson from The Nature Conservancy brought up some great points about how a large association can assist local offices who are looking to create Facebook Pages.

– Create approaches noting guidelines and best practices
– Start communication with Enthusiast, connect monthly to open dialogue
– Sync efforts, push top promotions/campaigns across all pages, not just the local page.
– Highlight successes of local offices

She also mentioned that you need to create custom landing pages on your Facebook page, don’t simply rely on the “Wall”. Your Facebook page should be treated just like your website in regard to separate landing pages. A huge tip she gave is that Facebook is Visual and that photo content always ranks high. Continuing this conversation the panel also mentioned that photos should be included in all blog posts (uh o, I better find a photo), pages, etc… The reason is that when you link that page to your Facebook page the photo will come through and people are more apt to click on a link with a photo and a clear explanation of what the link is. Also, if you are linking to external sites you need to be very clear about that or you will create a hesitation to clicking on your links. After all, I do not want to be directed to some random page after clicking on a link I thought would take me to your homepage, you would lose me instantly.

Read Holman had a lot of great points, but I think the major take away was that “having a presence on Facebook may be more important than having a page”. It makes perfect sense depending on what you are looking to accomplish after all, we all know conversations are happening regardless of the medium used. The page is not the final result Read said, sharing your information is more important. Making your site shareable and every post, page, etc… must have the ability to share and again, don’t forget to include your photo.

Laura Hubbard brought up some good food for thought as the conversation turned to pushing out content. Using Facebook insights you can tell who has hidden your posts. The last thing you want to do is push out so much content that your “Fans” start to turn you off. You have to walk the line and make sure you are getting out relevant content, not just pushing to push. CEA also allows others to tag so exhibitors can push out their info.

Overall I think the main point of today was that there is no one size fits all approach to Social Media, Facebook, etc… What works in Government may not work for Businesses, but lessons can be learned from each and put into a plan of attack. Remember when you are in Social Media there is no such thing as Failing, only Trial and Error!!!

If you would like to see more information check out the PRSA NCC site for the full presentation and podcast. You can also go to Twitter and search the hashtag #PRSA_NCC for tweets from today’s event (some examples below).

Podcast now available on the PRSA NCC site — http://www.prsa-ncc.org/blogcategory/new_media_downloads/

Thank you again to PRSA NCC and all the panelist for today’s event, it was fantastic!!!


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