Social media is beneficial for many reasons, including its ability to reach wide audiences. Individuals, brands, communities, and even government offices are using social media to share information and engage with one another conveniently and efficiently. As social media becomes increasingly popular, public accounts like those belonging to businesses and government offices must work to maintain active profiles that provide both useful and relevant information to their audiences. Here, we’re going to take a look at some of the ways social media in government can be used.
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Many of the benefits of social media use in the government are related to the ease of widespread communication. In the age where mobile phone usage exceeds television viewing, government officials have recognized that they can use social media to reach the wider public.
Public outreach at low cost
U.S. Federal agencies spend roughly $1.5 billion per year on public relations and traditional advertising efforts. Social media, on the other hand, allows for similarly effective outreach at a dramatically lower cost. As opposed to traditional advertising campaigns via commercial and print platforms that consequently cost thousands of dollars, social media campaigns can potentially reach even larger audiences for minimal cost. For example, Instagram and Twitter are common platforms for public service campaigns.
Depending on the specific department, sector, or individual, social media allows for various account types and content focuses. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat all have the potential to reach different audiences with various intended effects. This variety also adds to the simplicity of communication via social media. As opposed to orchestrating an agency-run announcement, government officials can take to Twitter for real-time updates. They can also post an Instagram story sharing visuals of an exclusive event in real time.
How the government can effectively engage on social media
Once familiar with the benefits of social media in government, there are certain recommended practices for effective use.
1. Connect with people
Government offices and officials can often feel distant and disconnected from the average citizen. Social media can fill that gap by providing an outlet for the government to humanize itself and authentically connect with the people. Government elected individuals are particularly found more commonly using personal social media accounts in recent years. They joined social media networks in order to show constituents more of their genuine self and their thought leadership on a relatable level.
For those in government just getting started on social media, Facebook is generally the easiest and most comprehensive platform. One way to gain an understanding of what others in leadership positions are posting and sharing is to take note of the activity by prominent CEOs. Oracle CEO Mark Hurd and New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo, for example, are two great profiles to draw inspiration from.
2. Build trust
People expect transparency from their government and respect those who can provide it. Fortunately, social media enables governments to build trust with its citizens. Formal news announcements and pre-scheduled speeches are effective in their own right. However, when government offices and individuals use social media to communicate, it presents a more casual and personable effect. Local governments can especially take advantage of social media to share real-time updates that their audience can feel privy to.
3. Communicate in real-time
Crisis management and public safety announcements can be instantly shared through social media. Faced with the harsh reality that society can be a dangerous place, social media can most efficiently alert citizens of weather warnings, evacuation announcements, and other potentially harmful scenarios. When considering the fact that people spend more time on their phone than watching television, urgent messages may be more widely received via a Tweet than television news broadcasts.
4. Social media usage tips
Government agencies attempting to reach broad audiences must consider additional factors in their posting habits. Paid media advertising can create the same intended effect as a traditional social media posting, but with more assurance in terms of the desired outcome.
5. Paid social media
Government agencies can give their campaigns and individual postings a boost with paid ads and sponsored messages. Generally in these scenarios, a cost is incurred depending on the type of post. For example, a Facebook advert may incur a cost per click (CPC). Depending on the individual behind the campaign and the intended goals, budgets can be flexible and will generally still cost less than traditional advertising.
6. Improved targeting
Paid campaigns allow you to target specific audiences. This can come in handy, particularly for local government agencies. Geofencing, for example, enables users to engage their audience by sending relevant messages to smartphone users who enter a predefined location or geographic area. Individuals can also be targeted based on specific interests and personal posting habits. Whatever the desired target, government agencies can feel confident their message will be seen.
Social media is certainly the way of the future. Moving forward, government agencies will likely take to social media networks on an even larger scale to more effectively reach public audiences. Is it time for your government agency starts leveraging the capabilities that social media has to offer? We can help get you started. Contact us today!
CATMEDIA is an award-winning Inc. 500 company based in Atlanta, Georgia. Founded in 1997, the company specializes in advertising, creative services, media production, program management, training, and human resource management. As a Women Owned Small Business (WOSB), CATMEDIA provides world-class customer service and innovative solutions to government and commercial clients. Current CATMEDIA clients include Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Office of Personnel Management (OPM), and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
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