Janine Marin - communications expert

Social media in government: mastering your social media on a budget can still be a piece of cake!

Last month I flew across the other side of the world from Australia to America to attend two social media conferences, meet new people and find the best burger in California. Thankfully, I conquered all three tasks in three weeks! My first stop was the Government Social Media Conference (#GSMCON2016) in Reno, Nevada.

As a specialist helping government departments standout online, I thought to myself: “Surely there’s not much difference between what we’re doing here and what they’re doing there…right?!”

Well, I was wrong.

At #GSMCON2016 I was the only Australian in the sea of government marketers, communication officers and social media managers. In its second year, GSMCON continues to be the only major social media conference for U.S. city, county and state government agencies. During the two days, we had keynote speakers from Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and, in between those keynotes, we had various seminars to choose from where government staff who specialise in social media provided insights, trends and updates specific to the government sector.

I’m relieved to say that the 20-hour trek there was worth it.

Rather than bombard you with information, I’ve shortlisted my top three takeaways from #GSMCON2016 to help you drive your social media marketing greatness even further without busting your budget.

1. There’s a third wave of social media and it starts with your employees.

Did you know 98% of your fans won’t see your next Facebook post? 

So, it’s not about how many fans you have or how often or when you should post, it’s about: transforming social messages into meaningful relationships with the help of your biggest fans: your employees. If you’re not convinced on how powerful employee advocacy is maybe this will turn you around: 92% of consumers say that they trust word-of- mouth and recommendations from friends and families above all other forms of advertising (Nielsen).

What you should do: Encourage your employees to use social media to help your business generate awareness of your products/services, reach a new audience, influence opinion, ignite action and, most importantly, build affinity with your brand.


[image from Hootsuite]

2. If you’re not live, you’re dead in social media.

And what I mean by “live”‘ is live video. I understand why some government agencies are wary of live streaming their events, though Katie Harbath, Global Politics and Government Outreach Director at Facebook, shared compelling statistics about the power of video, especially live streaming. We’ve heard it over and over that video is the mecca for engaging content, however did you know Facebook Live is watched 3 times as more and watched for at least an average of 5 minutes? What’s more:

people comment 10 times more on live video than any other posts 

What you should do: Government agencies need to learn from our US counterparts and use live video. You should test the waters first and live stream minor events or launches on either Facebook or Periscope and then move to bigger events and schedule consistent streaming into your content plan. Some live streaming ideas you could start with include a behind-the-scenes look into how your department works, having a weekly ‘community live news’ update or a live Q & A.

3. We need to consider UX in social media

I’ve heard of User Experience in regards to websites and apps but not in relation to social media. Until now. The Editorial Director from Georgia Technology Authority spoke about the rise of UX in social media marketing, specifically how government agencies should use UX principles to improve their messages online.

So, what is UX in social media? It’s about “reducing the friction between the tasksomeone wants to accomplish and the tool they’re using to complete that task” ( definition by Leah Buley, author of ‘The User Experience Team of One’). When we translate this for government, we define:

  • task as actions, like getting information about your service or completing a transaction and,
  • ‘tool’ as the platform they do this through, which is social media.

Traditionally, UX looks like this: Product —- Usability —-User.
In social media, UX looks like this: social media —- Usability —-follower.

What you should do: In practical terms, UX in social media means:

  • Not using passive voice in our messages (i.e. when the object of an action is the subject of a sentence. E.g. “Why was the road crossed by the chicken?”)
  • Refraining from using acronyms and instead using plain English
  • Avoiding Government jargon…I know, it can be tough!
  • Researching your audience needs via polls on social media or in online conversation
  • Creating user personas for each channel or personas based on common needs, interests, demographics


[Image from: https://custdevday.wordpress.com/pages/content/lean-ux/]

I hope these key takeaways help you master your social media, oh and if you were curious on what was the best burger in California, I have to say In and Out!


I’m offering a free social media policy review for government agencies to the first five people who email: janine@janinemarin.com.au

Who am I?
I’m Janine Marin, a personal brand strategist and digital marketing maverick who helps passionate go-getters and government departments build a standout brand online and grow valuable connections.

What am I all about?
I’m about helping the quiet achievers, the underdogs and the introverts who are driven to succeed. I’m also about helping small businesses, entrepreneurs and government agencies who are great at what they do and just need help to market that greatness.

I believe you’re ready to make a name for yourself online, and I can help you do it.


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