County PR person proud of Facebook growth
Madison County’s governmental Facebook page increased followers by 188% over the past year, the county’s public relations firm director told members of the Board of Supervisors during the board’s July 19 meeting.
The report was presented by Heath Hall, director of Strategic Marketing Group of Ridgeland, which handles public relations for supervisors and, among other things, runs the county’s official Facebook page Madison County, MS Government.
Hall said the goal of the Madison County governmental Facebook page is to increase the transparency of the board’s actions and to keep residents aware of the county’s actions by posting updates, including meeting notices, agendas, other notices and news stories that detail the county’s actions.
Last year, in June 2020, the supervisors agreed to allocate $175 per month to SMG to fund Facebook post boosts on the county’s governmental Facebook page. Paid Facebook boosts can target people of specific demographics and increase the audience that sees the boosted posts. The county’s post boosts began in July 2020, Hall said.
“When we began in July of 2020, we were at 1,737 followers,” Hall told supervisors. “We are now … at 4,994 followers, which is a 188% increase in followers. To me, that is a tremendous increase no matter how you slice it or how you dice it.”
Hall, with a chuckle, told supervisors he waited as long as he could to compile his report in hopes that the number of followers would reach or surpass 5,000 for his report. Not long after he completed the presentation, however, the numbers did surpass 5,000 followers and as of Tuesday, the number of followers for the county’s governmental site was at 5,022.
Hall said governmental Facebook pages are different than regular business or personal Facebook pages and have special rules.
“It looks very different, and it has to be treated differently,” Hall said. “I have to be certified twice a year in order to operate it, so does Shelton (Vance, county administrator).”
Hall said that due to the 2020 presidential election, Facebook did not allow governmental pages to boost posts from the months of late September to the middle of January because of the presidential election.
“That had a tremendous impact on October, November, December and January,” Hall said, noting that in a regular month, May, for example, the county had 44,665 people visit the county’s Facebook page.
“Strategic Marketing Group is not paid another $175 to do this,” Hall said. “This is flow-through money, so we are only billed for what we pay to boost. This is use or lose money. If I don’t spend money January, February and March, I cannot get that $175 back times three in order to post.”
Hall said an app for Madison County released last October has already garnered 534 users.
“Eighty percent of those people are going to board meetings,” Hall said. “They are going to look at the agenda. They are going to watch the board meetings live. They are going to archives, so they are very interested in what you guys are doing.”
Hall said he will soon start using the app to send push notifications to app users.
“As you know push notifications. … go out to all of our people,” Hall said. “A meeting notice, a road closed, a bridge closed, etc., etc., etc.”
District 3 Supervisor Gerald Steen, whose prior political campaign Hall managed, said he thinks the money is getting a good return on the investment.
“This is doing exactly what we intended to as a board is to get the facts out to the public and what you are sending out is just the facts, what this board voted on,” said Steen, who was board president last year when the board approved funding the post boost funding. “From June 2020 to July 2021, we started off with 1,737 and now we have 4,994. That is excellent.”
Steen noted that the report indicates that 74% of posts seen by people on the county’s government Facebook page were boosted posts.
“Boosting is very important,” Steen said.
“It is extremely important,” Hall said.
The board unanimously acknowledged receiving Hall’s report.