Wednesday, March 09, 2011

What's your government agency's social media exit strategy?

While diamonds may be forever, Department and agency names, communications campaigns and government programs are not.

This poses an interesting challenge when planning social media strategies - how do you effectively exit from a channel when a campaign ends (as the money stops and people go), or reframe a social media presence when your agency is restructured, renamed and repurposed.

I have seen very few examples of effective channel closure or transition. In many cases the Twitter feed or Facebook page just continues to 'hang around' after it is abandoned - or an agency continues to engage through its name from two years ago.

The classic website solution is the forward, whereby agencies forward visitors to an old website (or campaign microsite) to their main or new website. However this approach doesn't work in most social media channels where forwards do not exist.

I have seen some use of generic terms, to allow Departments to change staff, structure and name but retain their social media identities. I've also seen examples where agencies have a manual forward in place - such as "This Facebook page is no longer active, please visit our new page at ... " or where people are invited to friend or follow a replacement account. However none of these approaches work in all cases.

So what is the solution for morphing your social media identity to match your changing agency identity?

Do we need the owners of social media services to allow name changes or automated redirects?

Is there a more effective strategy for Departments to retain their social media presence, as they retain their phone numbers, when names change and campaigns end?


  1. Let's hope that most organisations are a bit better at it than the BBC: wind things up and put them in statsis; but don't get rid of them.

  2. A purpose-built online community is a resource that requires time and energy to grow. Therefore, these communities should be recognised and protected as an investment.

    It's useful to observe the following sustainability & efficiency analogy that serves as a high-level strategic 'rule of thumb' when we address lifecycle considerations with our public sector clients:

    Reduce - the number of disconnected communities.
    Reuse - outcomes for other community building initiatives
    Recycle - community members for additional related projects

  3. @Dale, you're absolutely right!

    I too agree with Dale's comment

  4. Dale I agree entirely - although I find it is often a struggle to convince agencies to encourage audiences to move or 'roll-over' between communities.

    There's concerns around whether this could be considered spam - even when the demographics across campaigns and across agencies are identical.