How Innovative Governments Organize Their Social Media Teams

The way a government organizes their social media can have a substantial impact on security and efficiency. In this post, you’ll gain practical steps. You can also find complete guidance in our new free resource, From Tweets to Impact.

At Hootsuite, we’ve seen a lot of innovative social media strategies in the government sector.

We watched the City of New York triple their social media audience from 1.2 million to over 3.7 million—all in just two years.

Local governments are equally successful. Take Fairfax County, for example. They’ve used social media to boost animal adoption rates and catch escaped criminals.

So what makes a government social media strategy effective?

One thing we’ve learned is that social governance (how you structure teams, design workflows, and develop policies) is just as important as creative ideas for YouTube campaigns.

Today, we’ll share a few of the best insights we’ve gathered from our customers such as Barcelona City Council, the City of Melbourne, the City of Boston, the City of New York, Australia Post, Centro, UK Trade and Investment, Ministry of Defence UK, and Scottish Enterprise.

By the end of the post, you’ll know the steps your government can take to mitigate risk on social media, increase transparency, and deliver efficient service to constituents. 

Get the complete resource for government leaders

These insights are taken from our comprehensive guide From Tweets to Impact: 8 Steps to Building an Innovative Government Social Media Strategy. It’s packed with expert advice and pragmatic steps your government can take to build a truly innovative social media strategy.

Download your free copy here

#1. Put your constituents’ needs at the center

Government leaders need a central place to listen and analyze the needs of their constituents.

Many innovative governments are now using Command Centers. With these digital data hubs, leaders get a central view of everything: tweets about a new by-law, a constituent reporting a pothole, city hall discussions, or praise for a new park project.

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Command Centers also play a key role in emergency management, helping government departments connect and coordinate social media response in rapid time.

#2. One platform to maintain security and control

Regardless of your government’s size or structure, managing your accounts with a social relationship platform is one of the best ways to organize social media and bring your departments together.

We’ve seen governments large and small benefit from using one social relationship platform for their entire organization. You can then grant department access and team autonomy from there.

Centralizing social media into one platform has many benefits.

It’s easier to coordinate messaging during emergency events. Social ties together agencies in the city, allowing you to quickly get vital information to the public. For example, one administrator can post a Tweet with updated information on the social profiles of police, fire, and health departments. This increases your speed and ensures consistent messaging.

You’ll also be able to consolidate accounts and reduce the overall time spent posting, engaging, and creating reports.

With centralized management, you’ll protect government social accounts against cyber vandalism. It’s much more secure to post via a social relationship platform and you can quickly suspend all publishing or remove employee access.

#3. One person should create all social accounts

This was a tip from our customer Fairfax County in Virginia, USA. Once you’ve consolidating everything into a social relationship platform, elect one person to control account access.

“This controls access and mitigates the risk of any attempts at cyber vandalism,” says Greg Licamele, Fairfax County’s Director of External Communications

“Our Twitter publishers, for example, don’t have the Twitter password. That’s something that the Office of Public Affairs has because we create the accounts.”

This helps to secure accounts and coordinate content between different agencies, departments, and contributors.

#4. A structure that offers oversight and collaboration

Getting your social media governance structure right is incredibly important. Your social relationship platform can be configured in many different ways.

Federal governments, for example, tend to use a central organization to control access, manage all permissions, and monitor all social media activity.

In contrast, a hub and spoke model offers both control and collaboration which often works well for cities and local governments.

We explain the three best social structures for governments in our new guide.

#5. One central repository for passwords  

Employees should never store passwords on shared computers, within emails, or on mobile devices that could ever be stolen or lost. A password management solution stores your passwords for you and allows you to share them to other members of the team without making them public.

Even better, implement Single Sign-On technology (SSO). This allows employees to sign into your social relationship platform with the same username and password from their government email account.

#6. Follow your social leaders (and meet monthly)

As the City of Boston advised, “a strong externally facing social media strategy starts with a strong internal one.”

Begin by bringing together your agencies, departments, and social teams for a summit, gathering input, and better understanding the challenges of social media across different functions.

For example, our customer Barcelona City Council did an audit of their social presence and found internal “social media superstars” in different government departments. These expert practitioners were used to teach other employees.

“Making people feel close to the social media strategy helps turn them into evangelists,” says Thais Ruiz De Alda, Barcelona City Council’s Digital Marketing Manager.

You likely have people in your organization you can learn from. Find them and get them to teach others.

#7. Establish a Center of Excellence

Once you’ve found your experts, formalize your strategy with a Center of Excellence or Social Media Council.

This team of stakeholders provides strategic guidance and control of digital and social initiatives.

Barcelona City Council founded a Social Media Council to develop guidelines and standards for individual departments and campaigns.

“It wasn’t a matter of empowering employees to be social,” says Ruiz De Alda. “The issue was whether they were thinking strategically about it or not.”

#8. Pick a challenge. Solve it together.

One of the benefits of social media in governments is that it brings everyone together in new ways.

One of our government customers, as an example, discovered that two minute videos performed better in social than 10 minute videos.

But changing their policy to allow shorter videos required the approval of multiple stakeholders.

Social brought all these different groups together in a new way. It’s this collaboration that is bringing about a big change in governments.

Your next steps:

That’s a high level view of what we’ve seen to be effective for government organizations.

To help you put these tactics into action, we’ve created a comprehensive guide for government leaders. You can download it here.

A comprehensive guide for government leaders

From Tweets to Impact: 8 Steps to Building an Innovative Government Social Media Strategy shows you the exact steps that leading governments are taking to mitigate risk and efficiently serve constituents on social channels.

Download your free copy here