Tag Archive for Environment Agency

Do I need a new social media channel?

new channel

My 11 year-old son, a keen and sensible youtuber asked me a question last night –

“I want to start a second youtube channel, can you set it up for me?”

It’s a common theme on training courses I deliver and for clients – I often get asked to set up new channels, or if new ones are a good idea. And my response is the same as I gave my son.

Do you have a separate audience you are trying to reach?

Are your target audience using social media channels that you aren’t currently? If not, then why do you need a new channel? It is far better to put your efforts into building the one you have through engaging content that informs, educates or entertains and use networking hours and hashtags effectively.

There are often valid reasons to set up different social media channels. I used to work for the Environment Agency and they have a range of channels, particularly on Twitter. They maintain a national twitter account @EnvAgency as well as regional accounts such as my local one @EnvAgencyMids. The content varies on those channels – the regional accounts carry information only really of interest to local people for example flood warnings. Move to another level and you have well-followed staff such as @TrevorRenalsEA who have an interest in either local or specialised issues; in Trevor’s case it’s invasive plant species. Each account has its own specific audience. Trevor’s detailed look at invasive non-native species is perfect for other specialists in that field, but wouldn’t suit the national account that covers a huge range of subjects and a wide geographical area. Sometimes the national and regional accounts retweet content from individuals and vice versa. During #invasivesweek the content did overlap to broaden the reach of messages about non-native species. The Environment Agency accounts are all captured in this Twitter list if you want to have a look through and see how they do it.


Do you have enough content for an additional channel?

Another important question to ask yourself is – do you have enough content to satisfy a second channel? This is particularly important if you’re struggling with content for the channels that you already have. Do you have enough to sustain it for the future? You need to be able to regularly service all your channels and keep the information fresh and interesting. As technology develops, it’s always tempting to jump into a new channel, without thinking about what you’d use it for.

So in many cases, as I told my son, the answer is unless you’ve got something different to say to different people – ‘build on what you have and do it well’.  He doesn’t have a discrete audience for another account and sometimes struggles to know what to post on his current account. But as he’s 11 and his mum has advised him to do one thing, obviously he’s ignored me and now has two youtube channels!

A check list to work through if you are thinking about a new channel

1 – What is my overall objective, whether it is leads or sales for a business, communicating with the public for a government agency, or engaging supports for a charity – your social media activity should support your work and aims.

2 – How are my current channels performing?  This can help you to decide whether to add new ones, replace one or more of them, or stick with what you’ve got.

3 – Who is my target audience and where do they spend their time? You need to go to where your audience are and communicate with them there, rather than expect them to come and find you.

4 – Do I have enough content to sustain another channel?

5 – Do I have the right sort of content to sustain another channel? If not, do you have the budget or resources to create the right content?

Twitter tips – don’t just save them for a rainy day

This week’s rain reminded me of one of the days (one of the many, many days) spent in incident mode at the Environment Agency. During one of the wettest years on record, rain didn’t just mean an unpleasant journey to work or being stuck inside; the question ‘what are you doing at the weekend?’ was really a polite way of asking which shift you wanted to be put down for!

The pdf below shows a day in the life of the @envagencymids Twitter account during full-on flooding, with my training notes attached. After several months of weekend shifts, we were desperately trying to maximise the number of people we could call on to help manage our social media accounts. This document formed part of the training.

The day in question, 25 November, saw a peak of 156 flood warnings in place, problems with a new flood defence at Kempsey, and despite being a Sunday was an incredibly busy working day.

My top tips for managing twitter during an incident based on just a little bit of practice are:

Start early with a clear summary of the latest situation – @envagencymids most popular tweets were sent around 6am, they were then widely shared by the twitter accounts of local, regional and national news as well as many individuals.

Create lists of official partner accounts so that anyone managing your accounts can easily see who to retweet and name check – when you look after an account regularly you get to know that @wmerciapolice cover Herefordshire but you don’t want to be trying to find that out in an emergency situation.

Don’t be afraid to publicly ask for retweets from partners, since the riots in 2011, police forces tend to have by far the most followers of public sector organisations in an area, and as long as it’s relevant they will happily share your messages.

Don’t be afraid to repeat key messages, people don’t mind a regular prompt to check their flood risk, and a link to how to prepare. If you manage an account you will be looking at twitter all day, most ‘normal’ people don’t, so will miss a percentage of what you put out. They might be seeing that key message for the first time, even if it’s the third time you’ve mentioned it that day.

Try to reply to all tweets even if it’s just to acknowledge them, people like to know there is a human being behind the account they can interact with, particularly if they are worried about their own home or area.

Sign off at the end of the day (whatever time that may be). @envagencymids had some really nice responses to bed time tweets, lots of thanks and compliments, and also stopped worries about people expecting responses in the middle of the night. @Londonmidland never fail to do this as well.

Now , where’s my umbrella…

A day in the life of @envagencymids

By Claire Turner @clairet18