The happenings "inside" the Wisconsin State Treasury and across the street at the State Capitol

Social Media as a Tool for Treasury Outreach

My Community Services Specialist, Ron Giordan, recently presented at the National Association of State Treasurer’s Management Training Symposium.  Here is a blog from him on the presentation, as well as what he learned from the event.

Prior to presenting, Brooke Bredel, PR and Marketing Specialist for the Virginia Department of the Treasury Division of Unclaimed Property, and I sent out a survey to other communication specialists at state treasuries across the country. We wanted to get their views on social media as an application for outreach in their departments. What we discovered wasn’t very shocking – Click here to see the presentation and see the survey results.

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

More than 34% of the nearly 100 respondents do not use Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn. Luckily, 22.5% use at least one of them once a day. 67.8% said their office or agency doesn’t use social media at all and the main reasons – “lack of time”, “fear” and “don’t think it’s a useful communication tool”. These 3 reasons are the easiest to overcome.

Lack of time: I spend about 30 to 45 minutes a day using our social media platforms to get our messages out. This is spread out during my entire day. As a marketing/outreach specialist, putting up a quick message or 5 to our followers isn’t that time-consuming. With all the other projects going on, there’s no time to waste on social media but ignoring it as a tool to tell people what the office/unit is doing is actually detrimental to our goal: getting money back in the hands of rightful owners. Imagine your office just returned a record amount of money in one day – like we did in April.  I got that message out on Twitter and Facebook well before I sent the news release out. I started getting emails and phone calls from news organizations within the hour and we saw a spike in people searching for cash on our website. It took me 1 minute to type and send the message, another 10 to write that news release and send it out via email as well as link to our social media platforms; 11 minutes total to market our office? Where’s the lack of time? I use Tweetdeck to monitor all my social media sites and send messages out. It’s a huge time-saver.

Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...

Image via CrunchBase

Fear: I do understand this. There’s a lot of fear from government workers

about backlash to them using social media on work time as well as fear of people posting vile comments on Facebook pages or “tweeting” vile comments back to you. You do take that risk. I created the Facebook page for Wisconsin Unclaimed Property more than a year and a half ago and have never had vile comments posted. I did delete one comment once that pertained to the election. I prefer to not delete comments as I view social media as a way for our “customers” to have one-on-one conversations with us. I deleted that comment, though, because it attacked someone. I don’t find myself wasting time needing to go back and delete comments. And when it comes to Twitter, the feeds move so quickly that even if someone sends a nasty comment, it’s gone fairly quickly. It’s their opinion…shouldn’t we as customer service agents try to satisfy their request? Creating a policy was the best option given by Brooke from Virginia. She offered and great places to start. Many State IT Departments block access to social media sites. it’s up to you as a marketer to prove to the “higher-ups” in the state bureaucracy that they are wasting time only using old media to get a message out rather than using free new media.

Not a Useful Communication Tool: I think this comes more from a lack of understanding Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn. If you don’t know how they work, then, of course, they aren’t useful. It’s not difficult to use but can be daunting if you don’t know how to spread your message using it. But social media is a “self-taught” application, for the most part. Playing around on the sites and reading what other people are doing is the best form of education in this medium.

Image representing YouTube as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

While my pages are gaining followers slowly, I know people are viewing my sites regularly. They might not be constantly following but my messages are getting read. What’s the ROI on using social media as a form of outreach? When we are returning record amounts of money each month and last year returned $32 million after I started using Twitter and Facebook, I know the return on investment is high. The investment is so small compared to the large amount of information you can send out using social media as outreach. We still perform the outreach events across the state where we help people search the database; face-to-face communication is still the best way to get the message out. But, this added layer of social media is an efficient way to help the people we serve.

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