When one organisation looked at LinkedIn they went back to the drawing board to plan their approach. Creative content aimed tailored for their audience was key as communications and web team leader at Cheltenham Borough Council Katie Sandey shows.
A creative challenge is where it began. As a comms team, we love a creative challenge. Who can come up with the best idea, or achieve the most Facebook likes, or come with the most witty headline. Only this one was a bit bigger.
We needed to create one of the best performing council LinkedIn accounts, with the highest amount of followers possible. We were pretty much starting from scratch with, to be honest, not much knowledge about the platform and very little understanding across the organisation of the benefits it could bring with targeted use. We’re a small team with even smaller budgets.
Work out your priorities
So in true, post-it note on the wall fashion, we developed some priorities – and got them narrowed down to three. Simply, we wanted to: grow the council’s sector profile in support of high level ambitions with inward investment opportunities; improve our recruitment process to attract the best talent pool; and use the platform to complement the council’s business to business efforts.
We set these aims against a (what seemed like ambitious) objective of growing our followers by 50 per month, through engaging, innovative, creative content – or content that’s not too ‘council-y’ as the team put it.
Work our the right content
So what did we do? We changed our approach entirely. We found ways to tell our story and share our successes through creative, directly uploaded videos and timelapses. We shared photos and infographics. We designed documents using page flipping software, rather than PDFs, improving the user experience. We visually advertised council services and training opportunities. We shared award successes and human interest stories and positioned the council firmly as an employer of choice.
All the way along, we measured. We used conversion rate optimisation principles to help improve content engagement and to attract more followers by using different approaches to see how effective they were at increasing engagement. It was trial and error and the team adapted content when some ideas worked better than others.
We applied these principles to all of our social media platforms and saw a marked increase in our organic reach. We developed our own skills sets, we brought other internal teams on board, with individuals and teams now showcasing their work and experiences and sharing this with the sector.
So was it all worth it? Well, in the space of two years, we grew our LinkedIn following by 89 per cent. Our target was to increase by 50 followers per month but we have consistently exceeded this target and have actually grown organically by an average of 121 followers per month. According to the Local Government Association, there are 181 district councils in the UK and of these Cheltenham now has the second highest number of LinkedIn followers for its company page, which is a staggering achievement given our initial limited experience with the platform.
Importantly we connected. With people, communities, businesses and employees. And this for us was one of our biggest successes.
Oh and did we mention, we won GOLD? In the 2021 IESE transformation awards ceremony, our little comms team took home gold – in recognition of our LinkedIn success.
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Katie Sandey is communications and web team leader at Cheltenham Borough Council.