A fellow Government of Canada (GoC) colleague recently asked me how she can use social media to promote a video contest her department is soon launching. Although I answered her question by commenting on the original post directly, I thought I'd share what I wrote here as well, in case others are facing similar challenges, and to hopefully get some feedback (or more ideas!).
- the department in question does not have their own official Twitter/Facebook/Linkedin presence
- The video will be hosted on the department's site or on YouTube, or on both (did not specify).
- No budget to spend on advertising (e.g Facebook targeted ads, Youtube home page/masthead and standard box ads etc.)
I am by no means saying that this list of tips is definitive or even complete, but it is based mostly on tactics I have employed and/or have heard of others using, and have basically compiled as many as I could think of.
So, here were the suggestions I had regarding spreading the word (link) for a Video Contest:
• Twitter: ask relevant accounts to partner with you by either posting the link on their stream and/or retweeting the one you tweeted. To start, see this Twitter list of GoC accounts: http://twitter.com/Lissansky/canadian-government-accts . Certainly do not limit yourself to GoC accounts, and consider non-federal institutions as well as associations and NGOs. If you're wondering whether this is already being done, the answer is yes! Take a look at Environment Canada's tweets [link to be posted] - they not only tweet their own content, but also point to Provincial government sites and even retweet posts by the public on their own personal blogs - as long as the subject matter pertains to their account's objective.
• Ask other colleagues on Twitter to retweet your post by tagging it #GoC and #gc20 - in some cases if this is not generating enough traction, you can Direct Message (DM) people you know/interact with. Don't hesitate to ask other relevant Twitter accounts to do the same. *Caution -use your discretion in terms of who you think would be responsive, as well as with the frequency of these types of requests.
Note: the person who asked me for these tips does not yet have a departmental Twitter account, hence my emphasis on partnering with existing accounts.
• Post the link and a brief description to relevant Facebook Groups/Pages
• See if you can liaise with group admins to send out the info to their members on your behalf (each group has a Facebook messaging list).
• Post a link to the contest on your Linkedin Status and relevant groups don't hesitate asking others to help spread the word
• Include a link to the contest in your email footer
• Include a web banner /button/feature/link to the contest in prominent places on your department's site
• Use a backlink checking tool to see which sites already link to your department's websites - wherever appropriate, see if they will link to and/or feature your contest
Note: It is important to track all links you post, either by asking your Web Coordinator to create a separate trackable link for each method, and/or by using URL shorteners such as bit.ly (lets you track clicks). This will help you determine which methods/tools are proving more effective. Also, since I have not mentioned this yet, be sure to, wherever possible, post in both official languages.
To help with the above, a good starting point would be to make a list (you probably already have one) of the organizations your department normally partners with (both federal, and other levels as wells as NGOs and perhaps educational institutions) and see who among them also has a social media presence - you may be surprised just how many do.
Think of your social media strategy as a complement to all the other strategies would normally be using (such as email, newsletters, asking partners to link to the contest from their sites etc.). Try stuff, test things out. Learn a few lessons, and improve the next time.
Keep in mind that video is one of the hardest "asks" for user contribution - because it requires a lot more effort than other user generated activities. Furthermore, because the request is coming from the Government of Canada (vs. MTV), there should be fairly "good" prizes/incentives attached to the contest in order to get a lot of entries. I can't comment on the benchmark for number of entries to a government sponsored video contest - but finding one would be recommended.
Hope you found this post helpful. If you think I'm missing some great ideas, feel free to add them in the comments section!