Using social media to engage with stakeholders is a good way to both extend your reach to new stakeholders but to also increase your engagement level with those you are already working with.
If you know who you want to engage with you can start by finding out where online they are already talking, and listening to the conversation. It might be taking place in forums, blogs, twitter or linkedIn channels.
Then you can join in the conversation in your official capacity. By doing this, you are entering an established conversation, where you know people are interested in the subject that you want to talk about.
So how do you find out where these forums, blogs etc are? We’ve learnt at DH that this isn’t an exact science. This pinterest board describes some free tools to help find relevant conversations. Most allow you to search by keyword to find where conversations are taking place. They are a good place to start but this process also involves some online research, asking those you want to network with where they talk online, and also building your own online profile which will naturally help build this picture over time with some regular input.
It’s important to not just think about engagement as something for a specific project or just for the short-term. If you really want to develop good relationships and gather meaningful feedback, it’s good to maintain a presence on your selected social media platforms, and use them to build your network, commenting and giving feedback on other conversations and content.
When using social media, you will need to act and behave as an real person talking in an official capacity, rather than an official spokesperson. Read Anna Hepburn’s blog about being yourself on twitter. People are more likely to enter into a conversation with you and be more open if they are talking to a real person.
Read the DH and the Cabinet Office social media guidance before you start using social media. Both ask you to apply the same principles and rules when using social media as you do in other areas of your work.
For future advice, speak to the DH digital team.