Making friends with Facebook

City of Newcastle, New South Wales, is working towards becoming the leading source of social engagement and digital community information through effective use of its social media tools beginning with its corporate Facebook page.

Anecdotally the City knew it was the platform most of its audience engaged with and according to the Australia Bureau of Statistics approximately 60 percent of the Australian population actively uses Facebook.

The aim was to have City of Newcastle Facebook page regularly referred to as a primary source of information for events and news.

By being the trusted source of information for the community on social media, the City would also build on its stakeholder engagement with the community and establish itself as an instrumental provider of quality resources and amenity for the people of Newcastle.

Stakeholders were identified as ratepayers living in and just outside the Newcastle local government area, and visitors. 

The measureable outcomes included increasing the City of Newcastle Facebook followers by 20 percent, delivering improved content with a focus on mobile consumption and implementing a campaign using various methods of Facebook marketing.

The strategy included adding click-throughs to email signatures and event headers online, utilising internal newsletters and collaborating with Council’s engagement team to promote the page at any face-to-face opportunities.

A geo-targeting campaign was implemented to connect with potential new page followers based on postcode, interests and other page likes.

A flexible approach was used and the results were impressive. 

Over 12 months the City’s Facebook page following grew by 145 percent (much more than the 20 percent target set!)

The flow-on effect was especially pleasing. By reaching a broader audience, a greater diversity of opinions is now expressed on the page. Evidence is being seen of self-moderation on the page and, as the audience continues to grow, it is anticipated this will increase.