Community consultations on social media

Considerations for running consultations on social media.

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Use social media to increase awareness of and consult with the public for their opinion on new projects, services and government policy. 

Research 

Before you start your campaign, use social listening to see what kind of conversations are happening about your topic.

If there are hashtags already prominent in the area, consider using them in your campaign. Make sure you are equipped with approved, pre-prepared answers to questions you’re likely to receive from the community.

Determine how feedback from social media can and will be fed into your consultation. Will you only accept submissions via the web page? If so, this needs to be clear in your post copy. If you intend on collecting social media engagement as part of your consultation, this will need to be included in your privacy statement or in the post copy.

Some ideas for how to include social media feedback include: 

  • ask commenters for permission to include their comments in the consultation and include them as anecdotal or official feedback. This can be done by responding to people individually or including a link to 'terms of consultation' in the post copy. 
  • summarise key themes to indicate public sentiment 
  • export all comments into a file and include them as an appendix to your consultation – they may help to gauge sentiment on the project.

Whatever approach you take, make it clear to commenters how their comments may be used either in the post or landing page.

Advertising and targeting

Make sure you have an adequate social media advertising budget to reach your target audience. If you don’t have an advertising budget, you can ask other relevant agencies to promote the consultation on their channels. 

If you’re advertising, consider what advertising objectives are best for your consultation during each phase. For example, at the start of a consultation, you may want to consider choosing an engagement objective to get the community talking. Or alternatively, a reach or awareness objective to let as many people within your audience know about the consultation.

When you're ready to drive submissions, choose website clickthroughs or conversions as your objective. To encourage people to make a submission once they land on your website, ensure information is easy to digest and that the submission process is simple to follow. 

Cross promote

Respond to any legitimate questions you receive about the consultation. If you’ve worked with another agency, keep an eye on their page comments, and work with them to respond.

Consider using social listening to stay on top of the discussions happening about your consultation.

While your consultation is live

Respond to any legitimate questions that come through on any posts relating to your consultation. If you’ve worked with another agency, keep an eye on their page comments, and work with them to reply.  

You might also use social listening to stay on top of the discussions happening about your consultation.

Close the loop

Tell people what role they played once the consultation is closed.

You can do this by:

  • commenting on the original post
  • retargeting the people who engaged with the original post (depending on budget and the platform you’re using)
  • sending an email to those who registered their details with you (if they have consented to receive emails from you).

Regardless of the method you use to close the loop, it is important you show people that their contribution was valuable, and their voice was heard in the consultation process. 

All NSW Government consultations must be listed on Have Your Say

As per the Premier's Memorandum, NSW Government departments and agencies are required to list any public consultation that they are conducting on the central portal, Have Your Say.

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