The 7 golden rules of social media and community engagement
How can you use social media as part of a planning proposal?
On the one hand, the openness and transparency offered by direct and public interaction can be empowering, yet a desire to use social media to galvanise your supporters runs the risk of being hijacked by opponents if not handled well.
So, maybe we shouldn’t be trying to use social media as part of a public consultation? If we don’t get involved in online conversations, maybe they’re not happening? The inconvenient truth is that conversations will almost certainly be going on whether you like it or not. As such you have a simple choice; get involved, join the conversation and try to ensure a well informed and balanced debate, or bury your head in the sand and let the naysayers, and those with the loudest voices, carry on unmarked.
Action groups have long used the power of social media to influence planning decisions and gather support. Why shouldn’t developers?
At the very least social media can be a powerful listening tool, helping to gauge local sentiment and in identifying the key players. But its real power is in spreading a message and in influencing discussions and in encouraging engagement. As such, you should be asking supporters and third party advocates to get involved in online conversations, to correct misinformation and to provide accurate details about what’s being proposed.
This isn’t about spinning the truth; it’s about trying to ensure a well informed, balanced debate. You might even be able to turn some of those critics into advocates.
To avoid falling into any social media pitfalls, we’ve come up with these golden rules.
The 7 golden rules
- Listen and find out what’s being said – don’t just rush in.
- Be open and honest about who you are – hiding your identity will blow up in your face.
- Be proactive in discussions and responsive to questions.
- Be polite and personable, getting the tone of voice is vital.
- Don’t think you can do all the heavy lifting yourself – encourage supporters to use social media to spread the word. They’ll be your best advocates.
- Make your own content social media friendly and easily shareable.
- Don’t encourage arguments – be factual and correct untruths but don’t rise to the trolls or ranters.
At Remarkable we’re working with a number of clients who are keen to learn about how social media can play a part in their community engagement programmes. Social media can’t replace the traditional means of engagement (and I’m not saying that every development should have its own Facebook page), but it is another tool in our armoury to help ensure a well informed, balanced debate.
[Image by metaroll via Flickr]
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