The public sector is in the middle of a major shift as more and more leaders recognize that social media and government communication go hand-in-hand.
And for good reason.
When used strategically, social media can help governments to connect with the public, provide updates on policies and initiatives, and share information and urgent alerts with citizens.
In this article we’re covering:
- The benefits of social media for government agencies.
- Best social government social media platforms.
- Compliance archiving and social media.
Why Should Public Agencies Use Social Media?
If you know that 90% of US citizens use social media, it’s only natural that the government will benefit from those channels too.
As printed media and TV slowly become a thing of the past, citizens now get most of their news and stay informed through social media platforms
This means that the vast majority of constituents within your community are active on social media.
It takes some work and time to get used to regularly posting and communicating with the community, but the benefits of social media for government are huge:
- Community building — Social media is a great way to engage your citizens, find out what they care about, and spread the word on community initiatives.
- Public education — It allows you to communicate important topics to your citizens and keep them informed on the newest laws and events.
- Building trust — Actively participating in social media humanizes your public agency. Share success stories, address concerns, and showcase your dedication to the public.
- Crisis communications — In case of emergencies, amber alerts, or natural disasters, people are most likely to catch them on social media. Communicate the crisis, update the public on the latest happenings, and instruct them on what to do.
- Data collection —Analyze what the public is talking about, what new trends are being discussed, and what you should act upon.
- Source of truth — As fake information gets spread over social media, you will be a trusted source of information.
Now that you understand why social media for government is so important, how should you go about implementing it?
Let’s take a look at the best government social media platforms to use and the examples of the best government social media accounts to use as inspiration.
|Related: How To Create an Effective Government Social Media Strategy
Top 6 Social Media Platforms for Government Entities
When it comes to quickly distributing critical information, there’s no better social media platform than X, especially for government agencies.
X has a long history of public figures and governments utilizing it to communicate with the public and many people rely on it daily to get the latest news and updates.
With its number of users and the speed at which information is shared, X is the best social media for government activities and you should be utilizing it regularly.
You can post various types of content from emergencies, regulation updates, charity cases, local events, and having a bit of fun with your community… X is for everything.
Good to know:
People love responding to X posts and sending direct messages therefore you should consider assigning a designated account administrator to respond to inquiries quickly.
Don’t think of X as a platform to post one every few months, X encourages regular content creation and engagement through two-way discussions in your comments and the comments of other profiles. You can team up with other government agencies and engage in conversations that show your government’s human side to your audience.
|Related: How to Archive Your Twitter Account for Compliance
Facebook has changed a lot in the past decade, from a social media platform for talking with friends to a more community-centric approach.
While X is great at delivering news to the wider public, Facebook excels in communication with a select group of individuals, in this case, your citizens.
You can use your Facebook page as a notice board of the most important news for your community, but Facebook may not be the best platform for that. Use it to teach citizens about important topics, engage in conversation, create Facebook events, share images, and invite the community to participate.
Facebook allows you to create groups around different topics to strengthen the community even more. Some ideas: garage sales, senior groups, students, location-based groups, community problems, etc.
Good to know: Facebook is mostly used by the 45+ age group. This means your strategy, content, and messaging should cater to them.
Watch out and learn how to deal with trolls and inappropriate comments as there’s bound to be some, but following best practices for local government social media usage will help you get around this easily.
With over 2.3 billion monthly active users, Instagram is one of the biggest social media platforms today and it’s grown into much more than a photo-sharing platform.
Instagram is a great platform to share visually appealing content about your government. You can share event promotions, project photos, latest accomplishments, fun facts, or educational content.
It’s definitely the best platform to connect with millennials.
Another great thing about Instagram as a social media for government agencies is that it’s become very versatile in the types of content you can create (images, videos, carousels, stories, reels, polls) and how your community engages with them.
Good to know: It’s recommended to have a designated Instagram administrator who understands Instagram’s audience and can create compelling image/video content to engage them.
Reddit is a forum-like social media platform based on each community having its board for communication and engagement. Any government agency can create its subreddit based on its geolocation, branch, or intent.
It allows you to have more control over your community while still giving them great freedom to engage among themlseves.
Reddit is especially great for deeper conversations about important topics or AMA which your government officials can participate in to shed light on important topics.
Good to know:
It’s recommended that you have designated moderators for your subreddit who would control who has access and intervene if necessary.
Understand that Reddit is built and controlled by the community and that you should act only as a facilitator that starts up conversations.
Nextdoor is a neighborhood-focused social media platform that connects residents and government agencies on a local level. It’s designed to facilitate communication, collaboration, and community among neighbors.
With Nextdoor, small neighborhood communities can have a safe and direct communication channel with their government officials.
It allows you to get to know your community better and for them to build trust in you through meaningful communication, events, and engagement.
Good to know:
Bear in mind that Nextdoor isn’t as popular as social media networks like Facebook or Instagram. You might need a little extra effort to encourage your community to join and actively participate.
Nixle remains the most popular network among public safety departments, though it’s also gaining traction with schools and businesses.
It allows users to quickly send alerts and notifications from their mobile devices and distribute them simultaneously through text, phone, email, and Facebook… which is great for communicating emergencies like road closures, weather alerts, public safety announcements…
Although not very widely known like previous platforms, Nixle is used by over 8,000 businesses and government agencies to deliver time-sensitive information to employees and citizens which makes it a must-have platform for certain government branches.
Good to know:
Remember that Nixle is not free. There are three price options available. It’s very centered on critical information, especially emergencies, so you should change your approach completely from other platforms.
Archiving Social Media for Government Compliance
Social media is great for your government agency, but it comes with its unique compliance challenges like any other communications channel.
Because social media information is considered a public record, government agencies must comply with FOIA and open records requests, as well as satisfy state-specific deadlines, when giving access to government documents.
For your government agency to benefit from social media while staying compliant you would need to create a compliance strategy.
Decide on the proper social media archiving solution
To ensure data is captured and stored properly, invest in a robust social media archiving solution with real-time capture, search and monitoring features.
It’s best if you can centralize the archiving and store content from all your social media channels in one place.
Some solutions like Jatheon can further unify that and archive both your email and social media channels in a single repository.
The tool you choose for social media archiving also needs to have an advanced search capability that will allow you to find the data you are looking for in case of eDiscovery cases, misconduct, or public requests.
Create a social media compliance policy
After implementing the right solution you need to decide what to do with captured data to stay compliant.
Your social media compliance policy needs to include:
- Which social media platforms will you be archiving?
- What will your data retention windows be?
- Who will manage your archive?
These questions will give you the specific rules you need to implement and teach all of your employees to stay fully compliant.
Monitor your social media archive
A social media monitoring strategy ensures that your legal and HR departments are notified of potentially risky behavior at work.
An archive will help you prevent any misuse of social media before it happens and have a reliable way of detecting who utilized your social media maliciously.
With a comprehensive social media archiving tool, you can easily search for information that might lead to misconduct or harassment, or go even further by setting up keyword monitoring that notifies you about danger in advance.
Stay compliant with social media compliance laws with Jatheon’s archiving solution. Capture data automatically, easily find posts, comments, and chats, and manage your social media data with ease.