It’s estimated that 82% of the US population uses at least one form of social media, and there are many benefits to connecting with this large swathe of the population. Online social media platforms give governments the opportunity to be more transparent with citizens, get a better read on citizen needs and concerns, and increase trust.
Unfortunately, many governments’ social media campaigns are lagging behind the rest of the digital government transformation. Furthermore, governments may not even be aware of the benefits that can come with social media marketing by government agencies.
Here are our tips for government agencies to develop successful social media marketing campaigns:
Identify which platforms your social media campaigns should focus on
Chances are, you won’t have the time or resources to launch government social media campaigns on every social media platform, so you need to choose which ones to focus on. This will depend on your goals, as the objective of social media marketing for government agencies will differ by agency. To get started, we recommend you define the goals of your government social media campaigns and identify key stakeholders you want to target, and then align the campaign accordingly.
Understand your audience
After identifying the stakeholders that you want to target in your government social media campaigns, you need to figure out what interests them and what kind of content they would want to see. For example, if you’re marketing a land and wildlife government agency, you can provide better service and create more relevant content by identifying what kinds of media wildlife users are most interested in seeing.
Optimize the length of video content
Different lengths of video will work better on different social media platforms. For example, the ideal video length for an app like Snapchat or Instagram will be anywhere from 6 to 30 seconds, while videos should be 7 to 15 minutes in length on YouTube. LinkedIn videos, on the other hand, should be anywhere from 30 seconds to 5 minutes long. If your government agency is small and doesn’t have a full media production team, it’s a good idea to focus the video aspect of your government social media campaigns on platforms where shorter videos are more popular.
Identify the best times to post on each platform
Just as there are different optimal video lengths to post on each platform, each platform also has different optimal times to post. For example, the optimal time to post on Instagram is typically weekdays from 11am to 2pm Central Time, whereas Facebook is usually 1pm to 3pm weekdays and Saturday. Still, we recommend experimenting with different posting times and posting schedules to find what works best for your government agency’s social media campaigns.
Understand when to use social media as a communication channel
Although much of the population uses social media daily, it should not be a government agency’s primary means of communication with its citizens. This is especially true for emergencies, as government social media campaigns will only reach those with internet access who are checking their social media accounts. Social media should be used as a complementary form of communication in addition to email, text, and more traditional means of communication, like press conferences and press releases.
Check out what other successful government agencies are doing
One of the best ways to improve your government social media campaigns is to see what’s working for others and adapt it to your needs. For example, Marin County, CA makes their social media policy and playbook freely available online and this can be a useful tool and a source of inspiration to help all kinds of government agencies get started.