During the pandemic, many things have been turned upside down. As a safety professional, who focuses mainly on the public sector, the COVID crisis has greatly changed my typical workday. No longer am I out and about for meetings, lunches, or safety conferences. Instead, I am busy trying to keep track of my online events while working from home and staying in touch with my clients via e-mail or Zoom.
My leisure time has also dramatically changed. I no longer “pencil in” any concerts, parties, or sporting events. Instead, I take photos while walking at the local park and share my best pictures on my favorite social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn).
How do you feel this morning, on the squirrel scale??Posted by 92.9fm on Saturday, November 7, 2020
Follow for Safety Updates
Since accurate safety information is so critical at this time, as a safety professional I suggest that your agency consider following these agencies: Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) on social media.
URGENT. Many more people will get sick and die from #COVID19 unless we #SlowTheSpread.— CDC (@CDCgov) December 16, 2020
300,000+ Americans already have died.
Protect yourself and others:
🏠Stay home if you can.
😷Wear a mask.
↔ Stay 6 feet apart.
🖐Wash your hands.https://t.co/tt49zOn1hf. pic.twitter.com/6K2yT5o8BQ
Parks and recreational facilities have been upended by the pandemic in a variety of ways. For example, who would have predicted that playgrounds would ever become off-limits, or that individuals would suddenly prioritize being outdoors more than ever?
Some other recent operational changes and challenges have included:
- Obtaining supplies
- Arranging more virtual programming
- Changing facility capacity
- Managing your work-from-home staff
- Closing areas/Limiting activities
- Increasing technology needs
Another major development is that social media has become more important than ever. With everyone spending more time at home (and on their devices), this method of communication is now having a greater impact. I hope to inspire your agency to step up its social media presence by sharing some fun and creative ideas:
Invite and Welcome New Visitors to Your Facilities
Pretend you have never been to your site before and instruct visitors about the basics: What to bring and wear? What is the best time to arrive? Do you need to buy tickets in advance?
If you’ve visited the High Line since we reopened, you’ve seen the green dots on pathways and seats to encourage social distancing. Help us extend our reopening up to 30th Street by adopting a dot today! Dot adoptions start at $25. #AdoptaDot— High Line (@highlinenyc) August 5, 2020
Reassure The Public About Safety
Educate the public about your expectations for on-site changes and procedures. Social media is a powerful tool to communicate that other visitors are following the rules and they are enforced.
Thank visitors for following the precautions. Share photos of safety-related items, such as your new safety signage or the additional hand sanitizing stations, to reassure everyone that safety is your top priority.
Let the public see, through your posts, that there is plenty of room to be spread out and socially distanced while visiting. Make your posts fun by including photos of socially distanced wildlife, such as birds or turtles.
Alert The Public About Changes & Cancellations
Social media is the fastest way to send alerts to the general public.
**PLEASE BE ADVISED THAT FOR TOMORROW, WEDNESDAY, NOV. 18TH OUR FULL-DAY TRIP IN MATTITUCK HAS BEEN CANCELLED DUE TO THE...Posted by Celtic Quest Fishing Fleet on Tuesday, November 17, 2020
Demonstrate Virtual Programming
Now that virtual programming is common, use social media to share the benefits of participating. Show people joining in and having fun at your events and classes (BINGO winners, etc.).
As people stay close to home and experience more free time, the influx of visitors who may be starting up new hobbies is also increasing. Use this opportunity to connect by sharing tips for less experienced hikers, gardeners, nature photographers, etc.
Post items of interest such as walking trail maps or how to photograph a sunset or bird identification. Suggest useful smartphone applications that will help visitors to identify plants, birds, or insects.
Ask The Public To Report Vandalism
With the increased use of your facilities, more vandalism may result. Inform the public how best to report any problems they observe to reduce your agency’s response time.
Share More Details
What do visitors often miss at your location? Use these ideas to invite them to revisit or return at a different time of the year.
Aside from the main historical attraction, at one of my local parks, there is a butterfly garden and a nature trail to the beach which are often overlooked.
Celebrate Special Events
How will you be celebrating this winter at your agency? Did you decorate for the holidays? Share on social media, since not everyone can attend in person this year, but many would enjoy your photos.
Increase Your Following
Acquiring new followers has many benefits, because not only do these individuals become more engaged and promote your agency, they can also help your agency expand its outreach by sharing your content.
Ideas to attract additional followers and increase your engagement:
- Make frequent posts with original, fun, and informative content
- Respond to questions and engage with comments
- Indicate your social media presence to visitors while they are on your premises (ex.- signage and brochures/schedules/maps)
- Cross-promote with local groups such as the local library, village, museums, historical groups, etc.
Start a contest – Best photo, artwork, snowman, etc.
- Include your social media sites in your advertisements
- Provide links on your website
- Share quotes about nature, play, or weekends
- Provide updates on new projects or construction
- Show flashback photos to explain your agency’s history
- Introduce staff members and explain their role
- Promote artwork or books related to your agency
- Share your employees’ favorite locations, similar to how bookstore staff will share their best reads on a store shelf
- Conduct a social media “takeover” by asking a local celebrity teen to volunteer to post photos and captions from their unique point of view
- Label “photo or selfie spots” at your facilities and suggest the photos be posted on social media
- Pose open-ended questions on your posts: What was the best part of your visit? Did you see any wildlife?
- Ask the public to tag your agency and do check-ins when on-site
What does “tagging” in social media mean? This is when visitors mention your agency in a post, not just by name, but by using the @ symbol in front of your profile (ex. - @CentralPark). Your agency is then linked to the post and notified that it was tagged.
What does “checking in” on social media mean? When visitors mention they are at your location in a post by using the @ symbol, and as a result, their contacts may ask questions about their visit or discuss their past experiences. People often check into places like a concert or bar to meet up or find their contacts at the event.
This pandemic has increased the importance of social media as a method to engage with the public, so if your agency is creative during this challenging time it will benefit you for years to come. Stay safe and keep posting!