Quick VACo Conference Wrap Up

Last week’s Virginia Association of Counties’ annual conference in Bath County offered an opportunity for Red Boot Media to provide free 45 minute social media consulting sessions for county officials. We had a number of county supervisors, administrators and county CIOs stop by and ask questions about using social media tools to connect with their constituents.

Jim Spencer, Tazewell County Administrator, stopped by to talk about the county’s new Virtual Marketing Assistance Partnership – VMAP. Through this program, the county creates a 45-60 second professionally produced video for any business in the county. This free marketing assistance is designed to encourage economic development in the county and attract future growth and development. Learn more here.

I was very pleased to have had so many officials visit for their consultations, provided by VACo as member benefit. I look forward to helping local governments promote public service and connect with constituents!

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Would you pay for Facebook? – GovLoop.com

Read the full post with comments here. Originally posted 10/3/12 at 4:54 pm.

Facebook has announced that it is starting a trial service that allows personal posts to be more visible…by paying $7.

Read the full article here on the Wall Street Journal online. (Also see within the article a link to the Facebook release.)

This service has been available for pages for a few months now, but it’s new to personal accounts. I’m thinking now we might formally begin to separate “classic” social media, whereby you connect with friends and other actual humans, and “commercial” social media where you connect with businesses. Where would government fit in?

What do you think? Is there ever a circumstance in which you’d pay for social media that has so far been free?

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The individual approach to social media – GovLoop.com

Read the full post with comments here. Originally posted 9/13/12 at 12:26 pm

Jack Hernandez, Red Boot Media’s Graphic Designer, shared some of his thoughts on designing a social media strategy for a client recently. We weren’t sure if it was his years of work with local government or his partnership with Red Boot Media that helped him craft this advice, but we thought it would be great to share either way!

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Each client has a unique approach to social media and how they can use it, not just for the sake of social media but to benefit from it realistically. Here is how I approached a client recently when he asked me how relevant using social media would be for his business. His publicity manager had neglected to utilize Facebook effectively and because of that, he got the impression that Facebook had gone the way of Myspace.

Clients who aren’t social media savvy can easily be misled by others who don’t know quite what they’re doing themselves. My client asked me if Twitter was “good.” At that point I resolved to come up with a list of questions and suggestions that help him consider how Social Media would benefit him and which tools he would specifically find useful.

It’s not enough to come up with a basic list of questions and answers. The question “Who is your audience?” may be important, but it’s vague, and without pointing it out, a client may not realize who can potentially be his/her audience. Explain your suggestions and questions based on your client’s specific goals and product. Don’t be generic.

What do you personally hope to achieve through social media?
Ask yourself this without worrying about the limitations of technology and current social media capabilities. More than likely, there is a solution that will enable you to meet (and excel) those goals. Do you need a Facebook app that is effectively your web site? Do you want to link videos and open up a YouTube account? Really…anything is possible.

Who is your target audience(s)?
Your site is catered to a very niche clientele. Your Facebook page broadens the audience in that it makes your product more visible to others who are on Facebook, not just your friends but friends of those friends. People in the industry who start off on your official site also are drawn to your Facebook page for updates and developments. Through social media, you can update your audience with real-time developments and post images for visual impact. Twitter is a great if you intend to make very frequent real-time updates such as attending a conference or describing your activities throughout a big event.

Maximizing the social media coverage and broadening the target audience:
You have different sub-companies for each of your products. But you may consider having your Facebook business page represent all your products in general. The space available for your main graphic is large enough for to design something snazzy that will incorporate all your logos and a slogan. This will allow you to direct all your site visitors (from all your sites) to a central social media page where you can make more frequent updates.

Differentiating between your personal page and the business page:
It’s up to you to update your posts on the business page. If posts on your personal page highlight you receiving awards or going to conventions should be posting first on the business page, including images. From your business page, you can share your posts on your personal page, and potentially draw more “fans” to your business page.

Updating and maintaining:
In order to keep your Facebook page active, you need to be active. A few posts a week is a good way to update people and keep your product in their minds. More posts and gallery images if you’re attending a conference or receiving recognition for your achievements. Remember to reply to comments and questions that people post on your page. Social media is a dialogue!

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Thanks for the old news, Twitter – GovLoop.com

Read the original post with comments here. Originally posted 9/3/12 at 1:57 pm

A few weeks ago I noticed that Twitter kicked up their e-mail notifications. Because I have my “professional” Twitter account (@RedBootMedia….follow me and I’ll follow you back!), a personal account and an account I share with friends in a social group, I didn’t want to receive and e-mail each time I received a mention or direct message. That worked well until recently.

Now I receive not only a message about each new follower, but I have also been getting “@XYZ and 12 others have Tweets for you!” e-mails for all of my accounts. I’m sure they DO have Tweets for me, but most of them are either several days old or they are actually communications those accounts have with other users. I see almost no value to these e-mail round up messages.

Now, I’m a big fan of Twitter, so I’m a little confused by this move. Isn’t the point of this tool to have up-to-the-minute information? If I missed a week old “Top Tweet” what are the chances that information would be of value to me now? Does Twitter just want to send followers more e-mail?

Do you get these new messages from Twitter? Do you think the in-case-you-missed-it idea has value in the Twitter medium?

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Colorado Counties: Success and Challenges to New Media Use – GovLoop.com

Read the full post with comments here. Originally posted 6/21/12 at 1:30 pm

In April I wrote briefly about Commissioner Audrey Danner from Moffat County, Colorado and her efforts in using social media to connect with her constituents.

I had a chance to sit down with Commissioner Danner earlier this month at the Colorado Counties, Inc. summer conference and talk a bit more about Moffat County using Facebook and some of the challenges surrounding social media in general. Moffat County is in rural northwest Colorado. The county is almost the size of the state of Connecticut, yet has a population of only about 13,000. (Connecticut’s population….3.5 million.)

For the most part, Danner is alone in her use of Facebook at the county level. The two other county commissioners do not currently use social media tools to communicate, preferring to stick with more traditional methods for now. Though electronic communications do work for large segment of population, the commissioners feel that the kind of interactions that come from face-to-face communications still can’t be replicated online. County residents are encouraged to interact with the commissioners and have an opportunity to publicly address issues at the beginning of each commission meeting. The commissioners make other public appearances known so that residents can chat with them.

For Danner, her Facebook experience started as just a personal page a few years ago before her last campaign. She allowed citizens to be her friends online, and they got to know a bit about her. She said it made her “real” to her constituents, not just another elected official. She regularly shares county events and happenings, as well as what she does as a county commissioner, including budget meetings, economic development presentations, discussions on bringing broadband to Moffat County, etc. She sees it as an easy way for people to talk to her, make her easily accessible, encourage back and forth discussion in a more friendly manner than a formal commission meeting. The discussions on the page page are still professional, however, and if necessary she recommends discussion at county meetings or an e-mail message to discuss issues that might be better handled offline.

She is currently running for a second term as county commissioner and is considering a separate page for her upcoming reelection campaign to make the online separation between her current position and her campaign.

In the county offices, most Internet activity, especially social media, is prohibited by county staff while at work, mostly because of bandwidth issues. The biggest issue facing the county in this case, and many others like it, is rural broadband access. We talked at length about access issues gong back to the mid 1990s.

In my next piece, I will discuss rural broadband access, specifically in Colorado.

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