Social media from people to people
The more the city develops its communication in social media, the better the residents will find information which is important to them.
The city’s social media channels can be either a dry relay of information or a highly interactive community. The city of Kuopio has purposefully adapted a relaxed, warm-hearted and caring approach for its communication. Especially during the Covid-19 pandemic, easily approachable communication has received much praise.
-The Covid-19 pandemic has been a long-term disruption during which new ways to highlight a message have had to be devised constantly. Different tones can be used in communication even in the event of disturbances and exceptional circumstances although each message must be based on regulations, describes Raija Korhonen, Communications Manager from the City of Kuopio.
According to Korhonen, the sharing of a common emotional state, crisis resilience and coping become emphasized in Covid-19 communication. In addition to Covid-19, the tasks and communications in a city of more than 120, 000 inhabitants range from one end of the spectrum to the other.
Korhonen says that the use of humour and dialect, among others, are the pitfalls of municipal communication. Both of them can be easily misunderstood. Korhonen points out that it is often a good idea to use only a few dialectal words because a longer text twisted and turned into Savo dialect can easily become difficult to understand.
– We are happy to make use of both humour and the Savo dialect in the right proportion. We want to communicate person to person – clearly and using a variety of channels, says Korhonen.
The city has five social media channels in its use: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and most recently TikTok, which is especially interesting for young people. Each of them stands out due to their own style and also finds their own followers through it.
– In particular, the oral health social media team makes use of TikTok successfully. They have interesting videos and a unique style of making content, laughs Korhonen.
Kuopio is at the forefront of urban communications
Social media consultant Johanna Kukko examined the city of Kuopio’s social media communications with a tight screen, layer by layer. Kukko researched and analysed the current state, threats and possibilities of the city’s social media communication, as well as its areas for development.
According to Kukko, the maintenance of social media channels works really well in Kuopio. The city also excelled in the competitor analysis when the city’s social media accounts were compared to the corresponding channels of Finland’s ten other largest cities.
Kuopio is highly active on social media and it provides diverse content. The communication has a warm feel to it and a nice tone of voice. Active discussions also take place on the city’s Facebook page, describes Kukko.
Korhonen reminds us that although the number of followers in Kuopio is not as large as in other cities, simply staring at the number of followers does not develop operations. The most important thing is that the followers are committed and willing to engage in conversation with the city. Kukko agrees with this:
-When the groundwork is done well, social media appears to its followers as a high-quality and entertaining communication channel. When this is the case, people want to follow the channels and everyone can find individual and meaningful channels for following the city’s news, says Kukko underlining the importance of the groundwork.
The development targets identified by Kukko were mainly related to the better utilization of the brand and visual appearance of Kuopio. In addition, Kukko says that it is worthwhile to utilize more automation and data in the maintenance of social media channels, which can be used to develop the style and efficiency of publications to better meet the needs of those following the city channels.
For the followers of the social media channels, the development and monitoring of automation and data become apparent as clearer communication. Simultaneously, it is possible to follow the residents’ topics of interest and communicate on the subjects they are currently interested in. There is a consistent thread in the publications making the content more attractive. Pictures and the image of the brand also have a big impact on this, Kukko highlights.
Better communication through data
Korhonen says that on the basis of the study carried out by Kukko, various measures and new initiatives have already been made. New social media channels are emerging all the time, so the city’s social media team needs to use judgment as to what is really worth investing in.
– In the future, we plan to communicate more through TikTok and LinkedIn. The channels are very different: LinkedIn promotes Kuopio for those looking for a career and a job here, and develops the employer image. TikTok, on the other hand, reaches the younger user base better, says Korhonen and continues:
– In addition, TikTok and Instagram will also make use of influencer marketing this autumn. Together with our communication team, we planned a campaign in which the social media influencers of Kuopio talk about corona vaccinations to 12- to 20-year-old Kuopio residents, says Korhonen.
New experiments and publication types are closely monitored using analytics. The data shows directly which publications are successful and which are not. Kukko mentions that when you follow the analytics yourself, it also motivates you to develop your own work as well as new types of content.
– Managing many channels requires planning. Automation can be used to schedule postings, for example, once or twice a week, after which the communicators also have time for creative work, Kukko points out.
Automation also makes it easy to influence your own work and its meaningfulness. With the scheduling of publications and various tools, the social media team also has time for the most important thing: interaction, answering questions and discussing with the residents.
-The residents can feel free to leave comments, share photos and participate in social media making. After all, that is what the social media channels are there for, encourages Kukko.
The study of the current state of the social media in the city of Kuopio and the automation possibilities of social media analytics was carried out as part of the Human-Centric Digital Municipality (IDK) project (1.1.2020–31.12.2022), funded by the European Social Fund, the Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment, the City of Kuopio and Savonia University of Applied Sciences.
Text: Oodia/Heta Jyrälä