Tuesday, March 18, 2014

It Doesn’t Take a Village: Managing Social Media

Setareh Kamali, MPS, Public Affairs Specialist, Science Writing, Press & Dissemination Branch, National Institute of Mental Health, National Institutes of Health

Some agencies have the luxury of a village or team managing their social media. You would think with over 450,000 Twitter followers, 78,000 Facebook fans, and 135,247 followers on Google+, that the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) would have enlisted troops to keep up. However, that is not the case. At NIMH, we’ve made the day-to-day management of social media possible with a one-person operation. Here are a few tips to successfully manage social media when you’re limited in resources and personnel:

Quality, not quantity: There are numerous social media platforms at our disposable, but that doesn’t mean your agency needs to utilize each and every one. Try focusing on two or three platforms that work best to fulfill your agency’s mission and overarching communications goals. Deciding how you want to convey the mission to your audience, whether it’s through images, videos, or text, can help you identify which platforms to use.

Feed the beast: To keep your audience engaged and interested in interacting with your social media pages, aim to push out content almost every day. However, avoid spamming your audience with content! You want to give them the opportunity to view all of your posts. You certainly don’t want to lose any followers due to content overload. On days where your agency does not have original content to share, scope out other agencies with similar missions and share their content.

Utilize free analytics: There are many analytics tools out there that measure the overall success and impact of your social media efforts. If your agency is unable to afford these tools, most social media platforms provide free analytics that give you a general sense of how you’re doing. Analytics can help you develop strategies, support your social media goals, and guide the kind of content you should or shouldn’t post.

Have a back-up: In addition to your lead social media manager, it’s important for at least one other member of the communications office to understand your agency’s social media operations so he or she is prepared to step in when needed. This will ensure smooth transitions in the day-to-day management.

Patience is a virtue: It may not take a village, but it does take time to earn the trust of your audience and build a social media community. NIMH definitely did not cultivate a Twitter following of 450,000 overnight.  Give each platform about a year to grow and develop, track your milestones, and then look back on the year and evaluate what worked well and what your agency can improve upon next year.

NIMH Social Media Screenshots:
NIMH Facebook Page

NIMH Google+ Page

NIMH Twitter Page

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Becoming a Public Speaker—Go For It!

By: Bernetta Reese, Web and Project Manager, Office of Communications, U.S. Department of Agriculture, March 2014

Is it really as hard as it looks? I asked myself this question many times when I decided to apply to become a speaker at the Next Generation of Government Summit in Washington, DC. After 15 years of public service, I knew exactly what topic I wanted to speak about — How to Love Your Government Career. And I knew that an audience filled with hundreds of young aspiring leaders who had an interest in the federal government could benefit from my story. Although it was not my first time speaking publicly, I dared to take the stage among experienced keynote speakers which included high-ranking government officials and leaders from the public sector. I was truly inspired by the opportunity and chose to seize the moment rather than let it slip by as so many do who have a fear of public speaking.

So how do you prepare for your venture into public speaking and how do you make the most out of it? With planning, effort, and perhaps some training you’ll realize that it’s no different than anything else you try for the first time. You’re not the first person to feel nervous holding a microphone or standing up in a crowded room with all eyes on you.

Here are a Few Tips for Becoming a Public Speaker

  • Study other speakers around the world to discover what makes them great.
  • Watch TEDTalks, online videos, and lots of news — reporters are sometimes great to observe   because they often improvise.
  • Read books, magazines, and web articles to learn what it takes to be a confident communicator.
  • Sign up for training events and attend public events to see how it’s done in person.
  •  Join a Toastmasters Club to practice developing and giving your speech and to get helpful feedback in return.
I’ve given presentations for meetings at work, hosted events, and even stood in front of a classroom full of elementary students. But a professional speech has a different feel altogether, because your audience doesn’t know you yet and is expecting something useful and provocative in exchange for their time. You have to really think about what your audience wants to hear. As a speaker, you must provide the greatest value to your audience by delivering something meaningful that will positively impact their views or lives. Of course you know that anything of value will take time to perfect, so you must practice, practice, practice! Put any doubt aside and just do it. You’ll find that it’s not as hard as it looks

You can follow Bernetta on Twitter and find her page on LinkedIn. This discussion is brought to you by the Federal Communicators Network. FCN members are government employees managing U.S. government communications.