06 October 2016

Social media in the public sector: Don’t lose sight of the “why”

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What do you do, as a marketer or communicator, if you’re told your brief is “to reach everyone in Australia”?

It’s a daunting task, but according to Flip Prior, Social Media Strategist at the ABC, the first thing you do is ask “why?”


“You always have to ask, ‘what is your purpose for doing things’?” Flip said.

In the world of social media, it can be tempting to jump on every new trend and try every new platform. However, as Flip says, knowing why you’re using a particular platform and whether it is right for your audience is crucial. Otherwise, you’re really just following fads.

“If the content isn’t right it’s pointless,” said Flip. Having said that, Flip says trying new things and experimenting with new platforms are important steps to take in engaging with new audiences.

Recently, Flip and ABC’s social media team experimented with Snapchat as a way of reaching the 18 – 35-year-old market. As Flip points out, these people might never use traditional media, opting for social as a first point of contact with brands. How did they respond to being contacted by the ABC, a notoriously old-fashioned media source, via Snapchat?

“The feedback was very positive,” Flip said. “There was no criticism of the content.”

Flip admits some people saw it as a “dumbing down” to engage with younger audience but all in all it was a valuable exercise.

Flip also says trying new approaches on Facebook is important, particularly as Facebook increasingly prioritises paid content from brands.

“Facebook is moving towards prioritising what people share amongst themselves,” Flip said. “That’s chilling for brands.”

To maintain momentum and engagement on Facebook, Flip and the team are experimenting with Facebook live video. Using top ABC talent and personalities, live streaming via Facebook has generated “fantastic” engagement, Flip says.

So what’s next on the list of the ABC’s social media experiments? Flip says they will continue to trial chat bots to reach people directly on platforms such as Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp.

“It’s tricky because they’re not made for broadcast,” Flip said. Ultimately, though, it’s another way of engaging with the brand’s most important asset: people.

“The best thing brands can do is find the human element,” Flip said.

Want to hear more of Flip’s social media engagement stories? Register today for Akolade’s 7th Social Media for Gov Forum, 23-25 November 2016. This is a not to be missed opportunity to hear from some of the Australian public sector’s leading social media practitioners.

Visit Akolade's 7th Social Media for Gov website today, for more information and to register.

Christian Berechree joined Akolade’s production team in May 2016. He has a Bachelor of Media and Music and a Masters in Journalism.

Christian is a musical theatre geek and a new dad, and he’ll happily spend hours telling you about either or both of those things.

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