Presentation by Tim Akimoff, Social Media Coordinator, Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife
Summary by Angie Haywood, Indiana Division of Fish & Wildlife
Social media is an important communication tool for state agencies. We now spend more time looking at screens than sleeping, and much of that time is posting, tweeting and taking our #photooftheday. So how can state agencies ensure their conservation stories are being heard in this ever-changing digital world?
Tim Akimoff, Social Media Coordinator with Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife, set out to answer that question at the ACI conference. Tim shared his insights on how social media evolves and how to adapt to these changes. He shared six hot topics in social media: livestreaming, chat bots and Facebook Messenger, ephemeral content, video, influencers and event management.
Livestreaming provides authenticity and is a great tool to respond to breaking news. It can help a state agency build or re-build trust. Tim shared his experience using livestream successfully in his agency with press conferences on sensitive issues instead of press releases.
Chat bots and Facebook Messenger is a way to set up a response to customers when you aren’t available. They are an effective tool for crisis situations where you need to redirect customers, address second-language users, or to help answer frequently asked questions.
Ephemeral content, or content that is short-lived (generally 24 hours) is a tool for those audiences with shorter attention spans and on faster news cycles. Because this type of content can be produced faster and then disappear, it doesn’t cause as much confusion. Tim shared his success using Instastories to cater to those with FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) to help gain a more interactive and wider reach.
Video use is on the rise overall. YouTube is the second-most popular website in the world, after Google. Viewers remember 95% of a message on video, compared to just 10% when they read it. Tim believes video is the biggest asset in conservation/management information.
Influencers can create a lifeline to constituents and serve as a surrogate for agencies. They are a more trusted source for some audiences, and they share their messages directly with the people. Tim shared his experience using influencers to promote fishing. He encouraged state agencies to pay attention to who is following you and look for those who align with your values and are already connecting with people.
Facebook Events is an important tool that can be used to create urgency around volunteer needs or to promote public meetings. Tim recommends targeting geographic areas for events to get better local attendance and attention.
In conclusion, social media is not a separate communication strategy, but it is an integral component. Social media managers must look for the next thing and how they can develop it for their agency to stay in touch with ever-evolving social media. After hearing Tim’s presentation, I will take him up on his advice and look for social influencers and ways that I can partner with them in my storytelling efforts.