We all know times change, and something that didn’t raise eyebrows a few years ago may be considered a punishable offense these days. While questionable social media activity was once largely buried within timelines, it’s now easier than ever to dig up old comments or posts that can have serious ramifications on your potential career or the reputation of your business.
Complicating matters is that it is increasingly difficult to manage the vast volume of content generated online, as internet users are increasingly expecting businesses to be available to them around the clock and placing more trust in businesses who offer the ability to directly message them.
With this in mind, we chose to present on ‘Rules of Engagement: Minimising Organisational Risk and Maximising Customer Service via Social Media’ at Akolade’s 13th Annual Social Media for Gov Summit, held on the 14-16 of May in Canberra. We’ll provide a few insights from this presentation below.
As always, we want to thank the team at Akolade for making us so welcome, along with all the other fabulous attendees and guest speakers!
To provide tangible insight into how social media is growing, we’ve taken some sample data from one of our own government customers.
We have seen a significant increase in volumes of posts in social media, both to the page and via private messaging channels.
The spike in March 2017 is around emergency services, where they scaled to over triple the number of posts they create.
As you can see, in just two years, overall social media records have more than doubled, while private messaging has increased more than threefold. Spare a thought for your social media managers, who have seen their workloads increase as customers flock to social media! It’s evident that a robust strategy is necessary to keep up with such an explosion of records.
As your audience grows, how do you create a strategy that will not only help you manage your social media pages, but also maximise positive engagement?
One of Brolly’s clients, the City of Kwinana, recently found themselves going unexpectedly viral after their Facebook post around drainage nets garnered significant attention.
After changing their social media strategy to focus less on upcoming event profiles and more on what the city council had actually done, they struck gold with the post seen here – at present, it has been shared over 183,000 times, and has over 6,000 overwhelmingly positive comments. It has received both national and international attention, with coverage on the social media pages of Plastic Free July, Ladbible, the World Economic Forum, and Bored Panda, news and local programming sites such as the Daily Mail, the ABC, The West Australian and Today Tonight, and even got mentions on the Canadian Weather Network and Joe Rogan’s podcast.
While they didn’t expect the level of attention they received here, this provided them with an opportunity to be more strategic with their messaging, changing the way they approached their social media publishing and allowing them to maximise the engagement their viral post brought in.
Of course, we may not all be fortunate enough to have a viral moment to make clear what our audience finds engaging, but there are learnings to be found in this example. We can all be guilty of allowing ourselves to get complacent, and end up posting the same old thing because it gets reasonable results.
Having strong data present that irrefutably shows what works best for your audience is incredibly valuable, but without a post that’s wildly exceeded expectations at your disposal, this can be hard to find. Social media networks can show at a glance the performance of recent posts, but they don’t provide much context. Having the ability to view your historic posts to see engagement trends, or being able to search posts for particular keywords to see they perform in terms of messaging and sentiment could greatly assist in building a strong social media strategy that delivers far better results.
We’ll touch on an easy way to get this data shortly, but first lets explore the flip side to this – how do you ensure your social media doesn’t go viral for all the wrong reasons?
When Social Media Hurts Your Brand
Going into the final weeks of the 2019 federal election, multiple candidates learned the hard way that your social media history can come back to haunt you.
Two of the largest scalps to be claimed by the recent social media driven ousting were Labor’s Luke Creasey and the LNP’s Jessica Whelan. In both cases, unacceptable comments were made via their social media pages, but the response to their discovery was very different.
While Creasey took responsibility for his posts, Whelan’s camp initially denied she had made the inappropriate comments attributed to her, and suggested the screenshots in question had been digitally manipulated. While this allegation seems to have now been dropped, it does raise a decent point – screenshots can be hard to verify and lack context, and fake profiles aren’t difficult to make.
Back in 2015, a troll took it upon himself to provide some customer care that corporate absolutely wouldn’t have approved of. Posing as Target and later Doritos, he responded to customer complaints and went viral as a result.
While these examples of trolling are funny and seem harmless, many customers fell for the ruse. For businesses, misinformation can be a reputation killer, especially if it doesn’t come with positive media coverage to counter any damage done to your brand. Trolling on social media has become largely unavoidable, and how your business responds to inappropriate comments or behaviour on your page can have consequences.
To read more on risk factors for your organisation, please see our LinkedIn article on this topic.
Being Aware of Your Social Media Responsibilities
In the US, The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority and the Securities and Exchange Commission have published regulatory notices and compliance guidelines for financial advisors that can result in fines if not adhered to – it seems likely that Australia will eventually follow suit with harsher penalties for social media breaches in the future, and it seems logical that government organisations would be among the first in the firing line.
Councillors in Queensland were recently subject to 600 complaints, of which 36 were directly related to their behaviour online. This outpouring of public criticism prompted the Office of the Independent Assessor to issue a list of “do’s and don’ts” to help guide local government agencies and councillors in managing their social media accounts and pages.
The Your Social Media and You guide provides advice around the following:
Familiarising yourself with relevant guidelines is critical to ensure you’re using your platform responsibly. When used appropriately, councillors can use social media to engage with their communities and take part in constructive, transparent conversations, encouraging public trust and increasing public perception that their voices are being heard. However, we have also seen that there is a fine line between freedom of speech and inappropriate behavior, and the standards for the public and those in the public eye can be vastly different.
Key Takeaways for Councils and Other Organisations
Social media has the potential to be immensely powerful in delivering information and spreading the word about important initiatives. At the same time, it can also be a dangerous tool when used incorrectly.
Social media poses major risks to organisations when you don’t consider the impact of:
- Inappropriate posts and comments – both past and present.
- Appropriate social media moderation – being empowered to hide, block or delete can make a huge difference to your engagement.
- Following policy and codes of conduct – as social media policies become more commonplace, there’s little excuse for not knowing your organisation’s digital code of conduct, and ensuring you’re not unwittingly putting your business at risk.
All of this is a lot to put on the plates of over-stretched social media managers, who are already dealing with increasing levels of social media interaction while trying to create engaging, audience-appropriate content.
Fortunately, there is a way to help you maximise your engagement strategy while minimising your organisational risk without adding another dozen things to your to-do list.
Archiving! It’s not the obvious sounding solution, but you may be surprised by how useful archiving can be, not only for protecting your business, but in providing snapshots into your posts and creating roadmaps to better results.
Why Archiving Matters
Consider our top tips for ensuring social media success:
Archiving can play a large role in your overall social media strategy when used effectively.
When it comes to social media moderation, we can at times be limited in the actions we feel we can take. It’s easy for a customer to delete their abusive comments and then play innocent when their remarks are deleted or their account banned, and a complaint about an unwarranted removal can cause problems for social media managers. Archiving allows you to prove why your actions were justified, giving you the freedom to remove inappropriate comments before they escalate into something bigger and potentially outside your control.
Archiving is now part of Australian government policy, but in many cases, it is only when the availability of these archived records is called into question that it’s even considered. As a result, national and state archiving bodies are now putting in place requirements around social media archiving.
Our team has spent the last couple of years working closely with various Australian National and state archiving bodies to better understand the requirements for archiving social media records, and most importantly how recommendations can be actioned by organisations to protect themselves.
As stated by the National Archives of Australia, staff need to create and manage accurate records of their business activities to ensure decisions and actions can be accounted for, including social media activities.
These bodies give guidance about what should be done, but don’t go into how it can be accomplished, leaving it somewhat up to each of the department or agencies to put their own procedures in place. Many agencies understand they should be archiving, but aren’t sure what appropriate archiving looks like, or even why it’s so crucial to keep records. This can lead to incomplete archiving, which is either inadmissible or insufficient when you really need it.
There’s more to a record than just the image. A simple screenshot can’t capture metadata, edits, deletions, and external media, nor can it ever truly present the whole picture as it’s impossible to manually capture all engagements as they happen. Real-time recording is the simplest, most time-effective way to preserve your records.
Brolly captures your engagements in real-time and stores them in a secure, searchable location, ensuring you don’t miss a thing. When you sign up, you get access to your historical data going back as far as your first engagements – forget 7, 14 or 30 day views! See where your engagements peak and ebb and build a strong social media strategy safe in the knowledge of what works for your business.
Use keyword searches to conduct an audit of your platform or help you devise key messaging, and our export feature lets you generate campaign reports at the click of a button.
Never be worried about deleted comments again – with Brolly, you can recall a deleted post with all its associated metadata (including who deleted it, in case you find yourself accused of removing a comment you didn’t) quickly and easily.
We know your customers aren’t just on one platform, so we allow you to connect unlimited accounts at no extra cost. Give limited access to relevant teams, or allow multiple users to have access.
Never being afraid of being breaching compliance policies again with all your data safely stored for a rainy day.
Brolly will be attending Akolade’s GovDX event, August 14-16 2019, Pullman Melbourne on the Park – don’t forget to register today!