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Too close for comfort

By Tara Lerman, Content Fellow at GovDelivery

Drawing the line between too much and just enough in the digital space

You know those friends on Facebook who update their statuses multiple times a day? The ones who let you know what they are wearing, what they ate for dinner, and where they went to buy a new dishwasher? Eventually, many of us get so fed up that we unfollow these friends, or worse…unfriend them.

You don’t want to be one of those friends. Nobody wants to be one of those friends.

But for many, it’s hard to draw the line between too much and not enough when it comes to the digital space. As a government communicator, how do you decide which updates are worth sharing? And more importantly, how do you cut down on content without losing your audience? Here are some tips to help you maintain a strong and professional relationship with your subscribers.

Don’t overstay your welcome: Avoid the one-sided conversation

We’ve all had conversations with people who love to hear themselves talk. Perhaps it’s entertaining at first. But after twenty minutes of listening to them, you realize you probably won’t get a word in for at least another thirty. Believe it or not, digital communication functions in a very similar way. Instead of sending subscribers long, dense newsletters, try a more interactive approach. Ask your audience members if they’d be interested in a program you are promoting. Suggest an upcoming event they might want to attend. Remember, you want to inform your audience, but you also want to drive them to action.

Find a balance that works for your agency and your audience

How often should a government agency share new information with subscribers? That depends on who you ask. Every government agency has its own way of communicating information, and every subscriber has his or her own way of reacting. Make it a priority to understand how your audience responds to content. Measure success by testing what kinds of messages have the highest and lowest engagement and begin to learn from these analytics. Once you start taking advantage of best practices in your messaging campaigns, your subscribers will come to expect new information from your agency on a regular basis.

Stick to the golden rule of communication: Quality over Quantity

When it comes to communicating government information to the public, less is more. Less content generally leads to more engagement. Your goal should not be how many words you can reach, but rather how many people. And the most effective way to engage people is to connect them with compelling, quality content. That’s why it’s important to put a limit on the amount of language you use. If it doesn’t relate directly to your outreach goals, get rid of it.

For other helpful tips about digital communications, contact our GovDelivery engagement experts.