Hello and welcome to the debut episode of the Public Sector Marketing Show where I ask, can you be a social media influencer in Government and public sector?
In this episode, I discuss why social media influence matters in the public sector. Social media influencers are mainstream across YouTube, Instagram and TikTok in the private sector. But what is social media influence in government and public sector? In this episode I explore this topic in more detail.
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Why Social Media Influence Matters in Public Sector
In today’s column I’m discussing, Why Social Media Influence Matters in Public Sector.
What is social media influence?
So why does it matter?
- > You own the truth
- > Your work is in the public interest – there is no commercial return for it – public service requires open and transparent communications
- > Traditional communications has evolved – there is a public expectation that their public service and government leaders will be visible and inform them regularly on social
- > If you don’t you are in danger of leaving the space for bad actors to create the story that you are responsible for
- > Being active and influential on social media means that you will naturally be engaged in social listening and hearing what media, commentators and the public are saying on key topics – nothing replaces being there! Not even social listening reports
- > You can’t manage social media if you don’t understand it, it’s a great way to become more social savvy
- > Social media is mainstream media – give it the same importance
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How to measure social media influence in the public sector
For this consulting section, I’m now going to go through how to measure social media influence in the public sector. It’s both quantitative and qualitative.
- #1 Followers: real people – not bots / not paid-for
- #2 Engagement rate: 2+% on main channels / 10+% on TikTok
- #3 Responsive audience to CTAs
- #4 Influential among peers in their sector
- #5 Consistent presence
- #6 In the public interest content
- #7 Authentic voice
- #8 Shows leadership in a crisis
- #9 Strong search results for key topics linked to sector
- #10 Followed with interest by journalists
- #11 Corrects the record, interrupts disinformation
GlobalWebIndex Study – August 2019 – In 2021 news outlets and government and public sector agencies are leveraging Instagram and TikTok for news topics
The Irish media and this topic.
There were two recent media articles discussing social media and influencers:
The first one covered by the Irish Daily Mirror the story of Fine Gael TD Neale Richmond calling on Government (of which his party is a member of) to pay social media influencers to create COVID-19 public health messaging content. This was published in various media outlets, the one I have is from the Irish Daily Mirror.
The second article is a column by Irish Independent journalist Ellen Coyne who comments on Irish Minister for Higher and Further Education Simon Harris' social media activity. Ellen takes a more cynical view of politicians ‘trying hard’ to be influencers.
“Politicians are trying hard to make us like them by creating online avatars of themselves neutered of all political skill and responsibility. Everyone knows where ground zero for this contagion of Wholesome Dad content is: Simon Harris’s Instagram account. A threatened motion of no confidence in his performance as health minister effectively brought down the government, after it triggered an election in January. Yet he’s managed to cultivate the same innocuous brand as one of the dungaree-clad presenters who used to mind Bosco. One day, I firmly expect to see he has gone live on Instagram with an empty margarine box, a lollipop stick and the promise to show us how to make a little bád.”
Here are some public sector pros who are leading the influence charge in their respective sector across three different social networks.
Education and LinkedIn – Siobhan Magner, National Programme Manager, Sales Apprenticeships, Mayo, Sligo, Leitrim Education & Training Board
Instagram and Politics - Minister Simon Harris, Minister for Further & Higher Education, Research, Innovation & Science, Irish Government
Twitter and Policing – Inspector Antoinette Cunningham, General Secretary, Association of Garda Sergeants & Inspectors
— antoinette (@antoabs) February 2, 2021
10 Ways to Become a Social Media Influencer in Any Government or Public Sector Niche
Understand how the demographic you are trying to reach communicate in the digital age:
- Social Networks V Social Messaging: these are two distinct activities online and younger people are migrating into peer groups.
- Look at how your government and public sector peers across the globe are engaging: the World Health Organisation is the no. 1 brand on social media right now and they are a great case study for public health and youth communications. Remember, every country is facing the same challenge so look for case studies.
- Leverage your staff and subject matter experts: we've seen new voices in traditional media and on social media from within public sector during this pandemic. Don't forget to look inwards before outsourcing your messaging.
- Be willing to do things differently: traditional PR and communications has been disrupted and a rewriting of the PR handbook is necessary to deliver agile digital communications. Have your work practices changed to reflect this?
- Stories matter: did you know our brains are wired to remember stories more than facts and figures alone? Tell Stories that resonate. I also describe this as ‘just like me’ content.
- Run the numbers: influence is more than vanity metrics (followers/subscribers) and so you need to look deeper into engagement, content format and the profile of the following. Do you know what social media data insights mean? What is social media ROI or success? This is the first question I ask my clients and students but sometimes the answer isn't intuitive. So you need to be clear on the north star of your strategy.
- Content format: The targeting of a message is step one, but the creative is step two in getting social media right. How much of your content is vertical video less than 20 seconds?
- Funnelling stories: The social media funnel is a powerful framework to reach, engage and convert, but often social media from government and public sector uses the 'push' and 'broadcast' approach. You are winning when you are 'pulling' an audience into your stories.
- Be human: the role of the political and policy voices are critical right now, but we need to see the human imperfections behind this role. This is not about compromising on professionalism, it is about being real. Stories and behind the scenes content requires consistency.
- Measure: Understanding data and social listening tactics to inform breakthrough trends is key. Working with Government and public sector agencies, I see that appetite and realisation that telling stories and building confidence and competencies in the social media arena is a pay-off worth pursuing.
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