Objective: To gain an understanding of how to develop a content strategy.
What the heck am I supposed to post?
Now that you have your Facebook page for your organization and have (we hope) determined who is responsible for updating content both before and after a crisis, the question becomes: “What do I post?” We will discuss what kinds of content should be posted during a crisis in another blog entry, but most people struggle with a content strategy when there isn’t too much going on.
Step 1: Set a goal.
Having a good idea of what you are trying to accomplish with your page (in other words–your goal) will help you decide what to post. The goal for your page will help your organization determine everything else.
Steps 2-4 Determine: Audience, Purpose, Focus
Keep three things in mind:
- Who is my audience?
- What is the purpose of my organization being on this social site, and the purpose of the content I am providing?
- What is my focus?
Step 2: Who? This question is fairly easy to answer for government organizations–the audience could be the entire online population in the community. However, you might want to determine if there are pockets that you can reach, specifically. Why? A message meant for everyone might not appeal to anyone. For example, if you know, based on site statistics, that most of your “fans” are women, then provide preparedness tips that interest them: see Women’s Health.gov for some ideas, such as “Emergency Planning for pregnant women and new mothers.”
Also, read this great article: How to Include Diverse, Vulnerable Populations in Emergency Preparedness. One tip: if you have members of your community that are deaf, make sure that any posted videos are accessible. This might require transcribing the video and posting the transcript as a note on the page.
Note: Not all of the content development has to come from you! If you see another state or EM agency or organization that has produced something cool–link to it. This is very easy to do, simply type your comment in the “Status” box, on top of the prompt “What’s on your mind?” Then copy and paste the URL into the status box as well. It ends up looking like this above. You can use google alerts to send yourself an email that includes links to content about what is new in emergency preparedness–everyday if you choose. Follow these simple instructions on how to do that.
Another important item to remember–people like to see themselves and their community members reflected in the page. Ask folks to send in pics of their activities and/or add pics of your own. In the social world–pictures are king. Keep in mind that you can also post videos to Facebook. People respond to multi-media content much more favorably than flat text.
How do you know you are reaching your target audience? As the page administrator, you can see who is “liking” your page. The advantage to being in a small town, is that you probably know quite of few of these people. If you realize that prominent city officials, such as the school principal, hasn’t “liked” you yet, or deaf community members haven’t become a fan, then simply reach out to them with an email or in person and ask for some feedback. Did they 1. know about the page and 2. if so, why they aren’t following? Be prepared to adjust your content based on their feedback.
Step 4: What is the purpose?
You will need to fill in this sentence: The purpose of our Facebook page is to____________.
The purpose could be as simple as to provide timely information related to news about your organization, event information, disaster preparedness tips, and/or alerts. Defining your purpose will then help you determine the types of content you choose to distribute.
However, you might find that your audience, or at least the people that interact the most with your page the most, is response community partners. Some organizations tap into this audience by providing updates about training and disciplined-focused articles. If you find that mixing the two types of content is somewhat confusing for the public, you could consider a Facebook group for response community members.
Step 5: Once you have established your purpose–your focus should be straightforward. If your purpose is to provide preparedness information (for both able-bodied and individuals requiring additional assistance), information about your organization, as well events related to your community–then the focus of your posts should be those topics.
Step 5: Coordinate with Other Agencies or Stay in Your Lane
Where organizations get into trouble is when they provide content a little bit out of their focus area: if you are a government agency, coordination is key. For instance, in Maryland one emergency management official became upset after the public health director constantly posted emergency preparedness tips to their own Facebook page (seemingly more related to the EM than Public Health). Another example, the Washington DC Fire Public Information Officer caused some turf battles when he posted content to the DC Fire Twitter account that was directly related to law enforcement. How can this problem be mitigated?
Have a community-wide plan!
Set a meeting with other response agencies that are also using social media and discuss what you all will be posting as a city. Use the September Preparedness Month as a reason to do this. Ask this question: What will be our coordinated preparedness messages?
It is also good to discuss with non-social agencies what preparedness information they would like to have highlighted. For instance, the public works department might not need or have a facebook page of their own, but they do want people to be reminded occasionally about where to plant trees (not under power lines–not near water lines) and how to trim trees to prevent damage during snow storms, etc. Bottom line: if you discuss a content strategy with all of your emergency support functions in advance, you can at least reduce the possibility of confusion and increase the opportunity for collaboration.