Using Social Media to promote your consultations

22 March 2017
Daniel Bradley

OpusConsult takes away the burden of having to manually type in public representations yourself, saving valuable time and money. To get the most out of this it is important to make sure that the public are aware of their ability to add their representations themselves directly into the system.

To make sure you are getting the most out of your software, we will be producing three useful guides on what you can do to increase the number of web representations you receive, and in turn reduce those which you must enter manually. This is the second of those guides.

Over the past 10 years social media has played an increasingly pivotal role in the world of marketing. For councils, it’s no different, with almost all local government entities now active in the online social sphere. In this guide we give some advice on how you can use these now-emerged marketing tools to boost hits on your consultations, and ensure that your consultees follow a do-it-online approach rather than creating extra work for you by using more traditional methods of communication.

If you would like to see our previous consultation marketing guide, please see our blog post on promoting your consultations on your website.

The importance of social media marketing

When it comes to your consultations, you should approach it in the same way as someone would if they wanted to promote anything else. If someone wanted to promote a new music album, a small business they’re starting or simply wanted to sell some old clothes - you will will find that the usual first course of action is to mention it on social media.

This is because the information on these social media sites is very accessible, bitesized and found where many would be looking anyway. There is also the added advantage of people being able to share the messages you post on social media with others, so your message can be efficiently spread without you having to commit to much work.

Maintain a relationship with your communications team

Your council will most likely already be active on Facebook and Twitter, and will have built up a following of those within your area. The job of those working within your social media team is to help put out council messages, the advent of a consultation fits firmly within this category.

By building and maintaining a relationship with those in this team, you can keep them abreast of the things happening on your side, and they will help you to promote the messages you are looking to get out there.

What you should post

Bear in mind that these are just suggestions, but we have some good ideas on the type of thing you might be looking to post using social media platforms.

Facebook allows you to distribute long informational posts, but be careful not to fall into the trap of posting something too large, as people won’t read it all. The best way to get around this is to post the most vital pieces of information first. Skip straight to the point, and then elaborate after. Try posting something with the following structure:

New Example Town consultation begins today.

<link to consultation>

Elaborate with information about the specifics of the consultation, providing any other instructions or notes that are relevant and useful to viewers.

On Twitter you should be less fearful of posting frequently. This platform is designed for posting short, sweet but frequent bits of information to your followers. You should tweet signalling upcoming consultations, tweet to make people aware of the first day of the consultation, and tweet on the final day in which you are consulting, warning people of their last chance to get involved. Again, make sure in all of these tweets you provide a link directly to the JDi consultation page to make it as easy as possible for users to access the information you are referring to. Anything in between those tweets is a bonus, so don’t feel too pressured to do more - but at the same time, on Twitter, it’s very difficult to post too much.

A final tip on this is to use Facebook and Twitter post scheduling tools if you have them available. That way you can preempt posts about occurrences in the future (such as the final day of your consultations) without the risk of forgetting to post in the moment during a busy time.

Hopefully you found these suggestions helpful, and can start making changes that will boost your percentage of web reps. Our next and final guide will be on using workshops to boost activity on your online consultations, so stay tuned for that!