The Top Social Media Fails in Government & Public Sector

Thumbnail The Top Social Media Fails in Government Public Sector

In this blog I’m going to share with you the top five fails in government and public sector social media communications. 


I have a lot of experience working with organisations on their social media footprint and trying to elevate the standard and to benchmark success against other public sector and government organisations right across the world. 

These fails you can turn into wins, so let me start. 

Top 5 Fails

1 – Mindset and Culture


If you have a mindset that views social media as not important, as a waste of time, as something that you want to ignore. 

If you fear having public conversations and moderating your community on social, then that’s not a great start. 

That’s the first fail. 


2 – Bringing an Opinion To a Data Party 


Often when I work with senior leaders or teams in government and public sector, I will ask for people to leave their personal opinion at the door. 

Now that might sound obnoxious and disrespectful, but actually what I’m intending to do is to create an environment where we look at the data, we look at where their citizens are engaging online, what information they’re looking for and that data can come through your website, social media analytics, social listening, trends, content analytics. 

All of that can be looked up by using artificial intelligence and third-party tools. 


Make sure that you’re making organisational and strategic and public interest decisions based on data and not personal bias. 


3 – Strategy


Without a strategy you have no roadmap. 

Without a roadmap are you going to be successful? 

What does success even look like? 


Having a strategy will give you structure, it will also underpin the goals that are aligned with the corporate and the communication strategy. 


A strategy for social media should be no longer than 18 months, and it should be a live document that is reviewed at least quarterly. 


4 – Generalisation


This is not giving due regard to each of the individual social networks. 

[click_to_tweet tweet=”One size doesn’t fit all and one tone of voice won’t match every social network.  In fact there are different audiences on different channels.  @PublicSectorPro” quote=”One size doesn’t fit all and one tone of voice won’t match every social network.  In fact there are different audiences on different channels. “]


So really understanding format and form and tone of voice for each individual social network will set you up for success. 

If you go with a shattergun approach to content and actually to the social networks, you’re going to fail. 

5 – Continue the Conversation about Content


Content is simply a story. 

A story has a beginning, a middle and an end. 

Human brains are wired to remember stories more than facts and figures alone. 


Develop out the story. 

A story isn’t an instagram story. 

A story isn’t a single tweet. 

A story isn’t a single facebook post. 


Develop out the story, develop the audience journey from that single and that individual beginning social media touch point. 

Where is that citizen going to go then? 

How are you going to take them on that journey of the story to get them to understand the full message? 


If you’re not the storyteller in your organisation, then somebody else is going to be. 

I recommend insourcing your story, get some outside help, but ultimately you should. 


So those are the top five social media fails that I have seen in my work with government and public sector agencies. 

Turn them into wins and then you can be at the top of your social media game.


Joanne Sweeney

Public Sector Marketing Institute 

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