Online communication of a community: main tools and peculiarities of their application
As of the beginning of 2019 there are 873 communities created in Ukraine. The decentralization reform is going on and its informational support contributes to the fact that the population and bodies of local government realize their new powers and responsibility for the development of a territory. Bringing the reform into life is closely connected with the introduction of new approaches and principles into management, namely open management and e-management as its constituent.
For many bodies of local government using online forms of communication is new and unfamiliar. Because of absence of a system of teaching specialists from bodies of local government how to master modern means of communication, lack of experience in using online channels of spreading information, official websites of communities, their social network pages are uninformative.
We prepared recommendations which will help communities to make use of more potential online.
Let’s start with getting acquainted with the words which are often used by experts on social media marketing.
Content is an informational load of a website/webpage, it includes texts, graphic, audio and video materials.
Target audience of a website/social media is a group of people in Internet, that the posted information is aimed at.
A hashtag is a key word or several key words which follow the # sign. It is used in social networks in order to search for messages by topic or content.
So today two most wide-spread channels of online communication of communities are a website and a Facebook page. Let’s look at both of them more closely.
Channel: a community’s website
Peculiarities: the format of providing information is official, a user acts as a reader.
You should become familiar with this recommendation before creating website, because the document regulates the structure of a website, special options which should be available etc.
2. Pay attention to visual stylistics
It is good if a community already has its logo and corporate colours and other branded visual attributes. All this may and should be used while designing a website. If a brand of a community is not created yet, at least you should choose the style and the size of fonts for publications, think over the colour scheme and the stylistics that will be common for all information products. This will help to make the interface and the content of a website correlate with each other, and this will make them more pleasant for perception.
Such visual attributes as a logo are needed to enhance the recognizability of a community.
3. Add topical posts
The optimal quantity of news is 10 a week. Pieces of news may be of different character: information about events / activities that will take place in the community in the nearest future; information and photos of events/ activities which happened; posts dealing with not only an amalgamated territorial community (ATC), but also with a district, region, country.
4. Update the documents on the website regularly
One of the first rules is that if there is a section of a website, it should be filled with information or it should contain a full-text document which can be downloaded (or a link to such document). The documents which are updated from time to time (for instance, a budget, plans of social and economic development, resolutions etc.) should be added as they appear.
5. Make the tab ‘Contacts’ as informative as possible
Check the up-to-datedness of the indicated telephone numbers, e-mail addresses, add a location map. Don’t forget to update the information about the officials when personnel changes take place.
If there is a feedback form on the website, it is obligatory that someone should answer the inquiries. Even if a message is abusive, it is necessary to answer it constructively: the best way to do this is to involve the author in a dialogue; leave the emotions aside and together find the way to solve the problem.
6. Post content taking into account the interests of target groups
The target groups of an ATC website are population, representatives of local business and external actors, investors. Make sure that each user of the website could easily find the information they need!
For population the news about different aspects of life in the community may be interesting, that is from posts of everyday life (for example, about the repairs of water supply networks with which scheduled water supply cuts may be connected) to changes in economic and political life.
Businessmen may be interested in getting to know the news about taxes, in getting information about grants for development of small and medium business and other opportunities.
As for investors, don’t limit yourself to an investment passport, update and post information about new opportunities. You have received land from the state in the ownership of your community? Tell about this on your website. You have vacant premises to be rented? Provide detailed information about them: area, location, facilities, purpose (or what it was used for earlier), logistics etc.
Channel: a Facebook page
Peculiarities: it serves as an additional channel to the main website to inform the population, its specificity is that it is less formal, dialogical; it demands to take into account the fact that users of social networks are mostly people of younger and middle age.
1. To represent a community on Facebook it is better to have a page, not a group
At first sight, the difference between a group and a page seems insignificant, but when you place your first post, it becomes evident that its authorship is linked to the personal page of a user. It means that an author of a publication is personified, that is everything that is published under the name of a user, is perceived as their own point of view. The comments and criticism will then also aimed at this user. Using a page gives an opportunity to create posts on behalf of a community (if a page is named accordingly).
2. Refuse from copying publications from the website of your community to your Facebook page
If in formation is important, repost it from the official website to the page. Firstly, this will increase the site attendance, secondly, it will save you operational actions. The target audience of a website and a page is different by its social and demographic characteristics, people perceive information differently, that’s why presentation of information should be different. This concerns both stylistics of texts and visual design.
3. Remove huge texts from your page
In social media long texts are perceived negatively. Try to give the main facts as briefly as possible. If a text is still long, structure it by means of paragraphs, indentions, underlining the main text, use bullet points.
4. Use visual graphics
Accompany text publications with thematic pictures, ideally, replace long descriptions by infographics. For example, while providing a quarterly or an annual revenue and expenditures report give the information in the form of a graph, not a table. Make sure it is understandable and readable.
5. Say ‘yes’ to interactivity
Perhaps, you have heard about hashtags and tags. A Facebook page is exactly the place where they should be used. Do you mention a person or an organization registered on Facebook in your publication? Before writing the name of a person or an organization, use @. It will allow you to make a direct link to the page of a person or organization that you mention. At the end of a publication add a hashtag, it may contain #thenameofyourcommunity or something thematic, for example, #sobornostday. Attention! You should leave space between hashtags so that they are displayed properly: #community #sobornostday2019 #holiday
6. Use photos while telling about the events in the community
There are two undeniable advantages in using photos of events on your page: the participants will find themselves in the photos and those who couldn’t take part will see how everything happened and next time they won’t miss the event.
We hope that our recommendations will help your community to easily master online means of communication!
We are open to ideas and partnership! If you are interested in the community development, in the establishment of interaction between local government and the community, please, call: +380 97 7213496 or write an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org