Paid and Organic Social Advertising for Municipalities [2020 Updates]

Written by CivicPlus

No matter your budget, you can leverage the power of social to grow your community engagement.
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If your community has earned strong citizen engagement on your social network platforms, congratulations on seeing the results of your hard work and consistent tweeting, posting, and sharing pay off. Now that you’ve developed a strong social presence, it’s time to leverage the power of that audience and promote key initiatives in your community using social network advertising. Don’t worry, social advertising doesn’t have to blow your budget. We have tips for implementing effective social advertising campaigns using both paid, and organic strategies. 

Paid Social Advertising

Paid social media allows you to put your message in front of social users who aren’t already following your community’s profiles. Paid social is highly targeted, and allows you to only present your ads to users in a targeted geographical region, helping to mitigate the chance of ad spending waste.

Depending on the initiative you are promoting, you can even target your ads further based on key demographic information. For example, target ads for your community’s little league registrations to Moms interested in sports. Promote your community’s free outdoor art exhibit to men and women who are interested in arts and entertainment. You can even promote the opening of your community’s ski slopes to men and women who like outdoor activities within a four-hour drive from your community to bring tourists and visitors into your community. The power and possibilities are endless.

Organic Social Advertising

You may not realize it, but if your community is active on social media, you’re already building and sharing organic ad content. Organic ads are posts that you share on your social networks to promote events, initiatives, or opportunities in your community. One of the greatest values of social media is in allowing messages to be amplified through social sharing. To optimize your reach with organic social ads, work to create sharable content. The more people who like, share, and retweet your message, the greater your ROI.

Social Advertising Best Practices

Follow our tips to ensure you’re fully leveraging the power of social to move your community forward:

Organic Content

  • Always include a photo or a video. Text-only posts are easy for citizens to skip when scrolling through their social news feeds.
  • Include links to more information on your local government website.
  • Use social platforms to promote key tourism initiatives and events in your community. Users interested in attending your event are likely to share it with friends, or post your message to their own profile to encourage their friends and family to attend as well.
  • Mention key community partners in your messages, such as businesses in your community, school districts, even chamber and community development groups. Doing so will spread your message to their followers (read: more free advertising).
  • Be consistent. The more regularly you post content, the more it will get noticed, and the more followers you’ll have.

Don’t let the pressure to post regularly become a deterrent. Save time and plan ahead by using a system that will allow you to craft and schedule messages in advance. CivicEngage® Send, the CivicEngage communication creation and distribution module, allows you to create and send messages to social media, along with other primary citizen communication channels, such as email. 

Save Time. Improve Efficiency with CIvicSend Download our fact sheet

Paid Content

  • Promote high quality content. You’ll see the best results when you use powerful imagery and compelling messages.
  • Make your budgeted ad dollars work hard by conducting tests. Most platforms will allow you to switch up your imagery, message, keywords, targets, and categories throughout your campaign. Use it as an opportunity to find what creative works best to capture your citizens’ attention.
  • Experiment with your payment options. Depending on the social platform, you may have the opportunity to choose a pay-per-click, or pay-per-impression campaign. Based on your budget, how wide your audience is, and whether the goal of your ads is awareness or action, one of these options may better suit your needs.
  • Even if your goal is not to test creative, be sure to change it up regularly. If you are running regular tourism ads, for example, build several different ads using different images and messages, and rotate them out frequently so that they continue getting noticed.