This week meet Timothy Martin who is the Communications and Media Coordinator for the City of Roanoke, Virginia. I know Timothy virtually (we are planning on having lunch soon!) He used to work with my dad at WFIR Radio here in our great city.
I’ve been intrigued with how Timothy has embraced his current role and think you will want to see what kind of success he has has. I can’t imagine managing the communication needs of a city?!? I do know that photo sharing of our wonderful place to live is hugely popular and I love to send pictures in and see them pop up on the city’s platforms. Pretty cool! Read on and see what Timothy is doing!
What social media platforms are you on? And how do you use social media?
In local government, social media is an important tool for both informing and engaging with citizens. Frequent posts and engaging content has helped our 40+ social media pages attract a following of more than 100,000. We use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, Vimeo, Flickr, and Pinterest to showcase city news and events in various ways.
It’s important for us to reach as many people as possible on social media and utilizing the many platforms available allows us to do that. Each platform offers something a little different and the audience isn’t always the same.
What platforms do you feel are the best to engage your audience or ideal client?
Facebook is by far the best social media platform to engage our citizens. The City of Roanoke, Virginia – Communications Facebook page has a following of more than 46,000. By promoting city news and events, and posting user submitted photos, our weekly reach is typically 150,000 or more. We also use Facebook to capitalize on big events. During the last two snow storms, around the clock updates helped us gain thousands of new likes and hit a record weekly reach of 600,000. In 2014, we were recognized by 3CMA for our snow coverage, winning the Savvy award. We also focus heavily on social media customer service. Citizens ask questions and we find the answers as quickly as possible. That’s the serious stuff.
We also have a little fun with it too. On April 1, 2014, we announced the Roanoke Star was going on a world tour. A fake news release and photos of the star at different landmarks around the world created quite a buzz on Facebook. That prank won us the “Best Use of Humor on Social Media” award from Government Social Media. Roanoke and its citizens get social media, and the team effort has put us on the map.
Share one or a few things that have surprised you about using social media.
One of the biggest surprises about using social media in local government has been the citizen engagement. I learned early on that if you engage with citizens, they will engage with you. A prime example is the 2014 snowstorm that really helped our main page take off. During that event, I reached out to citizens to submit photos of the snow. Hundreds of photos were submitted during that storm. Since then, we’ve received thousands of beautiful photos of the city. It’s almost second nature now for people to take photos, and then send them to our page for all of our followers to see. The use of photos has helped drive our numbers unlike anything else. Something else that’s not really a surprise, but more of an insight is how Facebook distributes our posts to our followers. A post with a photo gets more than double the reach than a post with a link or simple a text post. The same can be said for videos. Embedding videos directly to Facebook will reach more users than linking to YouTube. I would encourage any social media manage to study the stats that Facebook provides. Those stats can help you direct the content on your page in order to reach the broadest audience possible.
A little about Timothy
The first part of my career was spent in broadcast news. I was the anchor and reporter at WFIR Talk Radio in Roanoke. After seven wonderful years at the station, I left to become communications and media coordinator for the City of Roanoke. A prime responsibility has been managing the city’s social media pages. It’s been a wonderful learn as you go experience. I often say that everyone is an expert on social media. Try something, if it doesn’t work, try something else until it does.
Timothy’s Connection Points
You want to check out this cool page: https://roanoke.uberflip.com
I want to thank Timothy for his willingness to share his time and a little of what has worked for him in his job. Roanoke, Virginia is one of the most beautiful places and we would love for you to visit our great city!
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Mary Lu Saylor is an Emmy-award winning journalist who spent 30 years in the television news business. Her experience includes work as a videographer, newscast video editor, and ultimately as the newsroom Assignment Manager at WSPA-TV in Spartanburg, SC. Mary Lu is currently pursuing her passion of social media, which began during her years at WSPA-TV. She is a Social Media Specialist with FindGreatCompanies.com.