Effective use of video and images can drive social media engagement, serve as a strategic messaging tool.
As public relations practitioners, engaging with our public or publics, be they internal or external, is a significant part of what we do on behalf of our clients or employers. However, in order to get to the engagement step, you first need to determine a strategy for the engagement.
Coming from a broadcasting background, I have tended toward using video or visual communication as a means to delivering messaging in my role as the Communications Director for the City of Birmingham. After I started in my position nearly two years ago, I researched how videos drove engagement numbers on social media. Coupled with how technology enables us as practitioners to be our own videographers and producers (cue the I Phone), I decided to have video or visual communication be a foundational piece of the City’s communication strategy.
Nearly two years later, the strategy has paid significant dividends. On the City’s Facebook page, the reach of our posts is consistently in the triple digits, often regardless what the topic is. And, steadily, we are growing the number of followers to the page.
During the 2018 primary election, a ballot distribution problem with Oakland County resulted in a shortage of ballots at some of Birmingham’s precincts as well as in other Oakland County municipalities. In discussing the situation with City Clerk after the election, I suggested we do a video for the City Facebook page. Our messaging strategy included explaining what happened; thanking voters for their patience while waiting in line and then closing the message by looking forward to the election in the fall. The video was a hit, getting strong engagement numbers as well as positive feedback from the residents and stakeholders who commented online. As important, my boss was happy with the strategy choice and the communication vehicle used to deliver the message.
In addition to video, another tool we use that has helped our social media engagement are what I call our “fun posts”. More often than not, our fun posts tend to be still pictures, assembled into a photo grid that we have all seen or done ourselves (particularly on Facebook).
Some of our recent posts that have had high engagement included pictures of a family of ducks out walking near a Rouge River tributary in Birmingham; fire fighters taking part in a rescue training while climbing the side of a building and workers from the Department of Public Services (DPS) jumping for joy after a Christmas display was built in a park downtown. Going forward, we will continue to look for opportunities to use these types of posts which add to our reach numbers and hopefully, our followers on social media.
I’ll close with this. In my prior blogs, I have mentioned how as practitioners, it is important to familiarize ourselves with video production techniques. You don’t have to be an expert. Just familiar enough to create an effective video as well as incorporating strategy for its use. I hope my sharing in this blog reinforced that notion and spurs you to consider adding to your skill set.
Have a great summer!
Kevin Byrnes is the Communications Director for the City of Birmingham (MI). He previously was a Communications Consultant at ByrnesPR&MediaServices as well as the Senior Communications Manager for Wayne County (MI). He is a member of the Detroit PRSA chapter (national as well) and serves on the blog committee. Byrnes is also a member of the Individual Communicators Network (ICN) and is a member of a national government communicators group.