So we’ve pressed the button and your shiny new FixMyStreet Pro installation is now live on your website. Fantastic… now how are you going to make sure your residents know about it?
In these cash-strapped times, huge marketing campaigns are most likely not an option, so here are some ideas for low-cost coverage.
What other services do you offer your users online? Whether residents are applying for parking permits or commenting on planning applications, there’s generally a ‘thanks’ or ‘success’ page at the end of the process.
This can be an ideal place to promote new services: after all, your users have pretty much self-identified as local residents, and also as people who like to complete tasks online.
Your local paper will probably be happy to cover the story of your launch, but you can ensure continued regular coverage too, by sending out press releases based on stats.
FixMyStreet Pro’s dashboard allows you to run off statistics and create stories such as how many faults in a specific category are reported — and fixed — monthly; or to compare this year’s results with previous years.
There are many stories just waiting to be told, and local papers always like an easy angle.
Facebook, Twitter and even Snapchat or Instagram can be great places to make sure people know about your service, and for free.
You might consider running a small contest for retweeting or sharing your message, which would ensure that it reaches people beyond your own followers. Or ask your staff to get creative and photograph themselves at every stage of a fault report, making a compelling visual journey that allows your residents to see just what happens to their reports once they click ‘submit’.
Once you’ve been up and running for a few months, check in the admin interface to see whether there are residents who are making more reports than the average user.
These are likely to be the people who will recommend the service to others, especially if they’ve had success with getting their issues fixed.
They’ll often be happy to be interviewed for your newsletter, or photographed for other promotional activity. You could even identify them as a group of ‘super users’ and ask them to mention your service on social media, or to drop leaflets and posters at their habitual haunts such as coffee shops or their place of work.
Once you start thinking, there are all sorts of places where a service can be promoted:
A leaflet through every door is a costly exercise, but it’s much cheaper to deliver a stack of posters or flyers to local hubs such as libraries, job centres, gyms, playgroups and schools.
Or get creative and consider the organisations and groups most likely to use FixMyStreet: clean-up volunteers for your waterways or parks; civic societies or local history clubs, whose members tend to care about their surroundings; or perhaps there’s a local Britain in Bloom group or similar, who have a stake in keeping the area clean and tidy.
Those are our top ideas for cheap promotion: let us know if you have any more!
Once you’ve invested in FixMyStreet Pro, then of course you’ll want to ensure that your residents can find it easily. Here are a few ideas for making sure everyone knows where to make those street reports.
It sounds pretty obvious, but if FixMyStreet Pro is replacing a previous service, make sure you search your entire site to check that all your links are pointing at the right place. It’s always surprising to find just how many forgotten pages can be found in this way, taking users to retired parts of your site, or dead links.
While you’re at it, are there any automated emails or printed materials that might still include out of date URLs?
By default, we place FixMyStreet as a prefix to the council’s URL, like this: fixmystreet.eastherts.gov.uk.
If you prefer, we can go for something shorter, like Bromley did: fix.bromley.gov.uk.
Once you’ve got a nice memorable URL, it’s easier to put on leaflets, posters and in newsletters and emails.
Consider adding a link directly to your FixMyStreet Pro service on your website’s homepage, at least for a while until your users get to know where it is.
If you have a budget for marketing, you can see very good returns for a small investment on social media and search engine marketing.
You might like to run ads for a limited time on Facebook or Twitter, where just a few pounds can bring you both brand recognition and multiple click-throughs; or on Google Ads where you can bid on keywords such as ‘report potholes in [the name of your council]’.
If money is tight, see our recent post on low-cost ways to promote your FixMyStreet Pro service.
Your web editors are probably already au fait on how to optimise web pages to ensure they rank highly on search engines for relevant phrases. Make extra sure they’re putting their best SEO efforts into your report gateway page for maximum benefits all round.
One nice thing about FixMyStreet is that users don’t have to come via the council website to make a report: if they go via the national FixMyStreet.com website or app, and their report is within your council boundaries, it’ll come to you anyway. It’ll also appear on the council’s FixMyStreet Pro installation.
That happens the other way round too, so the national site also displays reports made through your website. The upshot is, if your residents can remember FixMyStreet.com, they can make a report directly to you.