Words are important. It’s not only what you say, but how you say it. You need to carefully craft your messages with meaningful, clear words with the right tone. During this week’s Government Social Media Chat, we took a look at the best tips & resources for ensuring your messages are written well in, “Find the Right Message: Tips for Words, Tone & Clarity.”
Welcome to our Government Social Media Chat #GSMChat and thanks for being here today! Words are important, and not only what you say but how you say it is key. Let’s chat today about “Find the Right Message: Tips for Words, Tone & Clarity” pic.twitter.com/9upcjWzd14— Government Social Media (@GovernmentSM) July 9, 2020
After the socialgov community from across the U.S. introduced themselves, we asked the community to explain the challenges they’ve faced as a public communicator this year.
2020 hasn’t been an easy year to be a government social media communicator; here are just some of the challenges they’re facing:
A1: A disconcerting number of people have chosen to follow narratives that feel comfortable to them — and are not receptive to information that does not reinforce that narrative.#GSMChat https://t.co/occhSYQBfN— Warren Kagarise (@wkagarise) July 9, 2020
A1: Now more so than ever, people are *tired.* It's fatigue from bad news, bad days, and bad months.— Katie Nelson (@katienelson210) July 9, 2020
Maintaining resiliency, intentionality, and composure, esp. when the Internet is caring loudly at you, can be tough. Especially when you *still* show up every day. #gsmchat pic.twitter.com/vhratUgczs
Everything from keeping up with changing messaging to keeping your cool while providing good customer service, there are a lot of difficulties government social media communicators face, but one of the most challenging topics: masks. What types of wording techniques seem to break through the noise & get results? Here’s what the socialgov community said:
A2 #gsmchat we took a very @vegas approach, and thanks to @savanapridi these images have been shared and got engagement going. Some actually believed these updates to existing signs were real 😬 pic.twitter.com/4PamxYD2HL— Natasha Kristina (@hitheresunshine) July 9, 2020
The roles of socialgov is crucial, especially for expertly communicating critical messages, like statements on racial justice, leading us to this next question:
Q3: Critical messages, like statements on racial injustice, have a level of gravity that demands authenticity, appropriate tone & good judgment. How can you communicate to leadership the importance of skilled public communicators in the role of #SocialMedia professional? #GSMChat pic.twitter.com/f8lpQTzq5p— Government Social Media (@GovernmentSM) July 9, 2020
Expert advice from the socialgov community:
A3: Put it in context.— Bronlea 🐈🐓🐐🐎🐕 (@bronleamishler) July 9, 2020
Would you send [Insert name here] out in front of media to make a statement?
Then why let them speak for you online? #gsmchat
A3: As @chMtnViewPD says, it's not about what people read or see, it's about what they hear.— Katie Nelson (@katienelson210) July 9, 2020
Trust those you trust every day with your messaging to authentically and intentionally listen, let others be heard and begin to bridge the gap to make movements forward. #gsmchat pic.twitter.com/gzjRjOsFSQ
I feel you on this. #GSMChat— Danielle Rogers (@danielleirogers) July 9, 2020
A3: Inform, show, and convince leaders how social can magnify their leadership and organizational brand. Lack of a social presence is detrimental to their reputation. Public communicators are their key to success (aka: you all rock!) #gsmchat pic.twitter.com/6szDcL1LQE— Deputy Chief Chris Hsiung (@chMtnViewPD) July 9, 2020
Messaging can be confusing, now more than ever. With some cities opening, others closing (again) and many stuck in flux, communications can get muddy. What’s your best advice on this?
Q4: Public confusion is understandable now that the U.S. is in various stages of shutting down (again). How can we effectively break down messages so everyone easily understands what your agency advises they do or not do? #GSMChat pic.twitter.com/kcynyLRma5— Government Social Media (@GovernmentSM) July 9, 2020
A4: Videos and graphics. Making it visual is huge. With all the constant changes and new info, big blocks of text won't help anyone. #gsmchat— ✨Jessica 🏠🧼😷 VanderKolk✨ (@jlvanderkolk) July 9, 2020
A4: Write actively & w/ urgency. Our city is supposed to follow guidance from our gov. Now, the gov is giving some authority to county mayors but not city. Residents want city mayor to do what county mayors can do. We explained why we can't. https://t.co/NhtbhP8orO #GSMchat— Lauren Gray (@Lauren_Hoar) July 9, 2020
A4: Less what we want them to do than what we will do for them: Be honest, transparent & empathetic. The level of road maintenance you expect won’t happen this year. Here’s exactly why. We hate it too. #gsmchat— Mike Allende (@mjallende) July 9, 2020
👉 Shorten sentences to create more white space.— Write On (@WriteOnCA) July 9, 2020
👉 Create headlines so readers can find information easily.
👉 Use pronouns like "you" to engage your readers & create calls to action.
Just a few tips on how plain language will help increase audience & boost readership! #GSMChat
A4: We've got plans for something like this. In So FL, we've recognized this isnt the new normal...yet, (insert "different normal") with our game on/game off messaging shifting.— mary mcguire (@marytakesphotos) July 9, 2020
We think we have momentum, then Ross from Friends pops up and says..."PIVOT!" #gsmchat @GovernmentSM pic.twitter.com/Mqh49oIY5c
Last question of the day! Tone & voice can be one of your biggest assets or your biggest enemy. Let’s see what the socialgov community thinks about this:
Q5: Your agency’s tone & voice can be one of your greatest assets, or your biggest enemy if not done well. How can you ensure #SocialMedia content contributors & leadership are on the same page with your agency’s tone, voice & style? #GSMChat pic.twitter.com/Gk3sUuLgWC— Government Social Media (@GovernmentSM) July 9, 2020
A5: Know your people. Your values, your mission, and your efforts are now mostly reflected online -- make sure you understand one another and you inherently know how and why your voice and tone make a difference in how you tell the world who you are. #gsmchat pic.twitter.com/MZedZXdfzO— Katie Nelson (@katienelson210) July 9, 2020
A5: Best way - have a face to face conversation with them. Dont put it in an email or a chat box. Let your voice and your face (even on webcams) been seen and hear. It is important enough to have a meeting about. Also, put it in writing as a follow-up. #GSMChat pic.twitter.com/uYxBLBNZUp— Emily Allen Lucht (@allen_emilym) July 9, 2020
A5:— Deputy Chief Chris Hsiung (@chMtnViewPD) July 9, 2020
📍Relationship of trust between leadership & socialgov communicator is key
📍Have them direct report to leadership (cuts out layers and helps each learn style preferences)
📍Give communicators a seat at the leadership table
We appreciate the socialgov community supporting each other, sharing tips & helpful resources! For a full recap of the July 9, 2020, Government Social Media Chat, you can read through the whole chat on Wakelet.
Government Social Media Chat is your chance to get advice and ideas from your government social media peers across the U.S. We e-meet on Twitter bi-weekly to unpack social media issues specific to the socialgov community, share thoughts through guided questions and destress together. Search “#GSMChat” on Twitter every other Thursday to join in.
Best communicate with the public you serve by becoming a part of the Government Social Media network at no cost to you — only available to full/part-time employees of government or educational institutions. Get access to socialgov-specific resources, like the COVID-19 SocialGov Hub group, and other organized content. Virtually collaborate with each other, share advice, get input, tips & more by joining the Government Social Media network today.