This recent post by Will Davis entitled “Why Companies That Say They Want Social Media Really Want Content Marketing” struck a chord. A lot of times, organisations operating in the Brussels regulatory space will ask me: “how do we start engaging in social media?” rather than “should we engage in social media?”

FH’s survey on how Members of the European Parliament – clearly a key Brussels constituency – use the web, illustrates in no uncertain terms that MEPs mainly look for content, not engagement. For instance, we found that while only 34% use Twitter (and only 31% state that it is effective or very effective as a means of communication – presumably because they use it as a megaphone rather than a mechanism for dialogue), 99% of them use a search engine several times a week to find content on policy.

Sure, in some policy areas, like ICT, MEPs, Commissioners, officials and other people engaging on the issues are fervently exchanging information via social media/social networks. In the majority of areas, this is not the case. And anyhow, you still ideally need content as a starting point for feeding information into the engagement loop to provide value and ensure that people take notice of you.

So if you’re doing online outreach in Brussels, take these steps:

  1. Develop a relevant content strategy and make sure you’re found via search.
  2. Figure out who is active in social media amongst your key audiences on your issues and track them.
  3. Determine how these people choose to engage: if they are demonstrably open to listening and sharing, by all means engage with them, but don’t jump straight in the deep end.7BMA5AEWAW6
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I’ve written a few posts on PublicAffairs2point0 recently which might be of interest to some of the readers of this blog who don’t follow it:

A somewhat lazy post, apologies, normal service will resume shortly.