One of the golden rules of social media marketing is adapting to the tone and conversation style of your intended audience. It’s important to promote a two-way conversation rather than a one-way message delivery system, interacting with the intended community. But should this apply to official city government entities as well?
Philadelphia Magazine recently ran some excerpts from the Philadelphia Parking Authority’s (PPA) recently launched blog under the headline “We Are Not Making This Up.” The excerpts include lines like “A lot of people find parking signs confusing, confounding [and] contemptible…As a driver…it is your responsibility to understand what they actually mean.” And “Yes, our PEOs [parking enforcement officers] make mistakes, but what human doesn’t?”
After reading these gems I decided to check out the blog fully expecting to find a muffed attempt at social media. It looked as if this would be a prime example of how NOT to run a blog. Too often, organizations attempt to use a blog to convey what they want their audience to know instead of what the audience wants to know. To my pleasant surprise the blog is actually better than I expected.
It features informational posts on subjects like “Why Can’t I Park in Front of My Own Drive-away,” and “The Auction Process” on what PPA does with confiscated cars. But more than a few posts can seem to carry a defensive and/or accusatory tone. The staff appreciation posts that feature letters in praise of PPA employees are unlikely to sway public sentiment, though they may boost the morale of a much-maligned population.
The moral of the story is that social media is most effective when it includes your brand’s audience in conversations that they care about (while still focusing on your chosen messages), in their tone of voice. While it’s doubtful that any PPA blog readers would connect with something like “When Are Those Very Efficient Parking Enforcement Officers Working?” They might be more inclined to read, “Will I Really Get a Ticket After 9 pm?”
Do you think that the PPA blog is hitting the right notes? Should they keep a separated tone because of the government affiliation?