By Charmaine Bonnici, Department of Information, Malta @DOIMalta
The Department of Information (Malta) ethos is to provide the public with up-to-date, comprehensive and meaningful information on Government policies, services and activities as well as on matters of public interest. In doing so, it uses a variety of platforms including social media.
In its strategy, the Department regards social media as another primary diffused medium that citizens use to communicate with it and thus it gives it its due importance. It is worth mentioning at this stage that the Department of Information disseminates daily information relating to the different portfolios covered by 15 ministries – it is therefore very much aware that there are multiple stakeholders that might become engaged with the Department over social media.
Thus, the Social Media Team focuses on drafting a social media plan that incorporates a diversified content. Topics of the day are likely to attract specific stakeholders, but the other daily posts aim to reach those stakeholders who do not necessarily have an interest in the topic of the day. The Department goes the extra mile to keep away from partisan politics and in a way, this has been endorsed and vindicated by the large number of followers it has garnered over the years.
The Department’s role is to inform and with that clear goal in mind the social media team starts to identify what to include in its social media plan. What content will be shared? What is already available? What can be reproduced or repurposed? A quarterly plan is compiled and updated regularly which helps in planning in advance daily posts for Facebook.
With the plan set, the team can move on to research information, check availability of stock photos available from the Department’s photo library or make specific photography requests to the photography section and prepare infographics and have short video clips edited in advance. It strives to make content inviting, interactive and above all relevant.
Each week a draft calendar of posts to be uploaded on the page is drawn up. It usually also includes anniversaries of events for that week, which can sometimes prove to be a good time to get people talking about an experience that they want to share when it comes to the historic or momentous events.
While text still matters, some of the more official information that is typically shared over an official portal is re-purposed as most people are reading on the run and thus content needs to be brief. Visual content gains the most attention and it is incorporated frequently – posting photo albums, photos from archives as Throwbacks, videos and creating infographics/posters.
Although most posts are posted or shared in real-time, the team does have a posting schedule taking into consideration resources, amount of content available and workload, peak engagement times and frequency.
Through social media, the Department provides on-demand service with the social media team replying instantly (in less than 15 minutes) to comments on posts and to all direct messages received.
In providing customer care, the Department acts as a one-stop shop and the same applies to its social media platforms – full replies are given by the social media team, which is assisted by the Department’s information service. When replying, the team uses real names so that communication is more personalised and engaging while interaction is encouraged.