Step 6: Social media is more than Twitter and Facebook

There's a temptation to jump to the latest new channels and trends – and it's easy to be distracted by this – which makes it even more important to make informed choices.

Platforms like WhatsApp, Instagram and Snapchat are being increasingly used by organisations to engage and it's important to be able to allow time within busy teams for an element of innovation which allows for some practical hands-on use and understanding of other platforms. But time is a precious resource in busy teams and there should be a rationale and business case for using the platforms which are most likely to deliver results and positive outcomes, and not because they are the latest fad.

Instagram can provide an interesting space to engage and in an often friendlier environment. Think about the type of services and events which would lend themselves to this picture and video sharing platform.

Good council examples of well-run Instagram accounts include Birmingham City Council with over 2k followers and Bradford Metropolitan Council, with over 1k followers, both of which use the platform really effectively to promote their key events and services. Both have attracted strong followings in a relatively short space of time underlining the opportunities outside of Twitter and Facebook.

WhatsApp has grown rapidly as a platform across age groups in the past couple of years. Several local councils have experimented to see if there are effective ways to use the platform to engage with residents.

A good example is Birmingham City Council who created a WhatsApp group to engage predominantly with under-25s in the city in the run up to the 2015 general election. Five hundred residents signed up, almost all under 25. Most of the group said that they went out to vote, some as a result of the group interaction. It was also noted that the engagements were extremely positive, and more so than was normal on other social media platforms.

Should I use Snapchat and Instagram?

This is a really good question. But the answer's a simple one: What does your research and plan tell you?

Is the group of people you're trying to engage with there in numbers - what does the data say? Is it potentially a good use of your time as we know these platforms are continuing to grow and offer a slightly different dynamic and environment to Twitter and Facebook.

Top tip – innovation: creating the magic five per cent

It's important to innovate but can be difficult to find the time to do it. Five per cent is a meaningful and realistic target to set for the work time you dedicate to innovation. It's where you can make great strides with your social media outputs and outcomes, and it can be rewarding and fun to learn new skills too.

By being well planned and having a thorough understanding of the resource available, versus the activity you need to deliver, it's possible to create the headspace and time to innovate – to experiment with a new app, trial a new platform or plan and shoot a new video.