For the second year in a row, over 300 city, county, and state government social media enthusiasts gathered in Reno, Nevada for the Government Social Media Conference (GSMCON). People ask me what it’s like going to a government social media conference, and I tell them to just imagine a room filled with 300 Bethanys. At that point people’s eyes tend to expand and you can see the fear starting to spread.

It is a bit daunting to imagine the chatter, passion, and excitement contained between four walls. But it is also very inspiring and encouraging. It’s such a mixture of people: Some from communication departments, some from IT departments; some representing elected officials, some representing programs or initiatives. It’s a melting pot of experiences and talents all with the commonality of social media.

Social media in government is a completely separate beast than social media in the private sector. Even then, social media on the local/state level is a completely separate beast than social media on the federal level. That’s what makes this community so valuable. We tend to be a bit siloed off, so it’s great to set aside one week a year to come together and collaborate.

This year we heard from Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, Page Freeze, Hootsuite, Sprinklr — the list goes on and on. Facebook’s presentation from Katie Harbath provided an exuberant amount of useful information.

She told us to best succeed on Facebook, follow four best practices:

  • Focus on engagement (posting at least once a day)
  • Have a variety of posts (pictures, links, livestream, Question and Answer, etc.)
  • Increase the number of interactions (likes, comments, shares, clicks, stops on mobile)
  • Talk about trending topics

For more information about using Facebook as a government account, check out The Government’s Guide to Using Facebook or email [email protected].

I also had the great opportunity to present again this year. Last year I discussed how to handle negativity on social media, but this year I focused on how to implement user experience (UX) best practices and research methods to facilitate your social media strategy. We learned that UX and social media actually have a lot in common, meaning many concepts and tools can transfer between the two.

I’m excited to be home and start implementing everything I learned. Check in with our Facebook and Twitter to see everything in action!

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