No, the sound that reverberated across the globe last Thursday was not a sonic boom. It was the collective gasp of social media teams everywhere reacting to the launch of Threads, the new social media platform from Meta.
Post-gasp, our social media team quickly got to work understanding Threads and its implications on our social media strategy. The team’s response was quick, but not knee-jerk. It was crucial to adapt to the change without compromising our social media strategy.
Threads is a text-based conversation app, positioned as a competitor to Twitter. Posts have a 500 character limit, and can include links, photos and videos. It offers a more intimate and private environment for conversations. For more information on how Threads works, please read Dan Slee’s post “What the public sector needs to know about the new Meta app Threads.”
What we want to do here is to address these key questions that followed the sudden launch of Threads:
- How can we be adept but still not deviate too far from our social media strategy?
- Do we really need to engage with every new social media platform?
- How should local governments react to sudden changes in the social media landscape?
Scott Hornsby, Senior Social Media Manager at Essex County Council, has the answers.
How can social media teams maintain a balance between sticking to a solid strategy and being quick to adapt to change?
Part of any social media strategy is to define clear objectives, identify target audiences and personalise content. It also involves building a resilient plan that can withstand unexpected shifts.
“It’s crucial that we develop a strategy, but we need to be part of emerging trends, and embracing innovation. Once we understand the platform we'll adapt, edit, review and in time understand exactly how we should be using Threads,” says Scott. “Threads is still very much in its infancy, with bugs, no analytics and a nothing that allows for trending content.”
At the council, the norm is to strategically evaluate platforms based on relevance and potential benefit to residents.
“We have a solid strategy for Facebook and Twitter, have nearly completed our new Instagram and LinkedIn strategies and we have the years of experience in social media to know that sometimes we just need to be there,” he adds.
Should we engage with every new social media platform?
“Due to its speed of release, its integration with Instagram and high level of security and the sheer magnitude of social and media coverage, we felt we had to be part of this new platform,” says Scott.
“We had to establish a presence on the platform to ensure our authenticity, prevent impersonation, and maintain consistent communication channels, where new followers may be. But this means we're jumping on a new platform, without review, without knowledge and without a strategy!”
Local government and social media bandwagons
Local government must proactively respond to sudden changes in social media. To do this councils need to understand how residents use social media, engage regularly with residents online and keep track of the evolving social media landscape.
“We need to adapt to change and be where our residents are," says Scott. “By staying informed, establishing a strong online presence and remaining adaptable, local councils can effectively engage with residents, be more transparent and build stronger communities."
How will we use Threads?
Right now, Essex County Council will use Threads to showcase a mix of content from all our social channels. “We will focus on residents and what they bring to Essex. We will talk about communities and how they’re implementing change,” says Scott. “We will also harness user-generated content to highlight the beauty of Essex and bring some behind the scenes content from the people here at the council who are doing amazing work.”
So…umm… follow us on Threads! We are @essex_cc.