Social Media for Government Agencies – Ireland Study

SOSM Report Launch Joanne Sweeney

What is successful social media for government?

I’ve got the answer. In fact, it took me 6 pain-staking weeks to compile the 2020 State of Social Media in the Public Sector report which profiles 500+ oreganisations.


Why the State of Social Media in the Public Sector report?

Social media is a mainstream form of communication for government and public sector agencies. COVID-19 put an extra impetus on digital communications as without a vaccine our government and public health agencies had to communicate quickly, effectively, and across a broad range of channels in order to reach, engage and convert messages into new behaviours.

While the speed of adoption of social media within Ireland’s public sector has been behind the private sector curve, it is on par with counterpart organisations across Europe, the United States, and Australia.


This study takes a forensic look at:

  • 1048 social media profiles audited
  • 518 organisations included in the study
  • 12 sectoral categories
  • 9 core metrics
  • 6 months of analysis
  • 5 social networks


[click_to_tweet tweet=”Here’s the social media standard for Government and public sector agencies.” quote=”Is there a standard for social media in governmennt and public sector?” theme=”style3″]

The use of social media by government agencies across the world is broad and varied. There is no single standard that applies across the sector. Many staff has inherited social media as a role without a core function being created.

This report serves to create a minimum standard in terms of some key metric and performance benchmarks as well as content best practices.

This is largely a quantitative study, however, for the 12 top category performer, I took a deeper look at content and strategy, albeit from a distance.

It’s hoped the results of this study will provide a series of insights that organisations can use to improve, scale, and drive results for better citizen engagement.

Carried out independently by Public Sector Marketing Institute we wanted to get clarity on the state of social media in Ireland’s public sector.

Heretofore, we have had anecdotal evidence of public sector engagement with social networks. But this study provides valuable research and powerful data sets from which to build, improve, and scale successful campaigns in the public interest. It was first undertaken by us in 2018.

What does the study cover?

Our study takes a forensic look at 1048 national and local government agencies in Ireland and attempts to answer a series of important questions.

  • What does successful social media look like for national and local government and public sector agencies?
  • How do you evaluate this success?
  • What agencies are performing well and what can we learn from them?
  • What factors determine success?
  • Why are some agencies successful and others not?
  • What do we uncover about citizen engagement and behaviour?
  • What social networks are best suited to public interest messaging?
  • What role has COVID-19 played in the adoption and increase of social media use among Ireland’s public sector?

What social networks were profiled?

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • YouTube
  • TikTok

LinkedIn was not included because as of June 1, 2020, LinkedIn removed its API capability for accessing third-party data.


What does success look like?

Successful social media has five ingredients.

1. Engagement

2. Consistent growth

– that’s why the PPI metric is so powerful as it combines both. This means that you are achieving RRR results!
3. Relevant content to segmented audiences 
4. Resonance with how they feel, what they need, hope for, or require an understanding of

5. Real-time digital communications which provides clear direction or new information

6. Measurement and understanding the data for actionable insights

What agencies are performing well and what can we learn from them?

It’s clear the top performers in this study have a social media strategy, invest in training and have sta dedicated to social media management. Social media is intrinsic in its corporate communications strategy.

What factors determine success?

Consistency, developing ‘just like me’ content plus putting a focus on video (short-form, long-form, live streams and Stories). Developing a tone of voice and caring about the public and their engagement levels.

Why are some agencies successful and others not?

Three key reasons: they prioritise social media, the organisation and senior leadership buys-into its role in overall corporate and public communications, and it’s embedded into the culture and mindset of the organisation.

Twitter helped us amplify our message and your performance

The hashtag#socialgovirl was on fire on Twitter during our launch event. This was a ticketed event only over two hours.  See what you can do from a small niche event?  What could you do during a public large-scale event? Let the social networks do the digital amplification if you create the strategy and hone the messages.

social media for government agencies - twitter hashtag report

How do I become a social media specialist?

Take one of our accredited online courses or invest in our 12-month membership.

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