The State of Social Media in the Public Sector 2021 - Key Takeaways

Author: Alix Bowman
state of social media public sector 2021 teaser

We’ve asked the questions, tabulated the results, and analyzed the data, and we are happy to announce that The 2021 State of Social Media in the Public Sector report is here! This year, we dug in to see how hundreds of agencies in the public sector are using social media, and how they adapted their usage, strategies, and engagement to weather the COVID-19 pandemic.

The report also details annual platform adoption growth and takes a closer look at how agencies and school districts across the nation used social media to get out important health messages about the coronavirus. You can discover these critical insights and more by downloading the full report here, or, by watching the webinar recap here. For now, let’s get into some of the top takeaways from the report:

1. The Most Used Social Platform

Facebook is still considered the most valuable platform, and one most agencies and districts can’t live without. This makes sense, as Facebook continues to be the most visited social media platform in the US. Twitter is used by 75.3 percent of organizations, giving it the second place spot. Instagram and YouTube tied for a close third (66.1 percent vs 65.4 percent). Interestingly, YouTube usage increased by roughly 2 percent year-over-year (YoY).

99% use Facebook

Facebook remains number one with 99.1 percent of responding agencies and districts currently using this platform. But to show you just how powerful this communication tool is, 82.3 percent of those responding agencies and districts called it a “must-have”.
To see which other platforms increased in adoption and usage from the previous year, download and read the full report here.

2. Increase in Overall Social Media Usage Since the Onset of the Pandemic

Almost two-thirds of respondents reported an increase in followers since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. This comes as no surprise as nearly all human interaction had to move online, which increased social media usage and boosted engagement on these platforms. And as a result, the majority of agencies and districts (70 percent) shifted their focus to digital.

61% increased in followers

In addition to growing the size of their “listening” audiences as offices, schools, and events were canceled, communicators had no choice but to prioritize online access to information. This began to grow their social media presences in other ways too. 61 percent reported increased engagement levels, and 41 percent said they increased their posting frequency.

3. Using Social Media for Critical Response Communications

With social media now serving as an essential communication tool for the public sector, we asked respondents how they were taking advantage of this trend. We found that nearly three-fourths of agencies and districts reported using social media for critical response communications.

74% use social for critical response

While this was a popular use case for social media in the public sector, it wasn’t the top use case. See what the top reason was for agencies and districts using social media in the full report.

4. Increase in Compliance Concerns

With increased time spent on social media, public agencies and districts have seen a corresponding rise in social media-related lawsuits. This could explain why agencies and districts listed compliance with records laws as the second biggest challenge to social media adoption. This growing concern over compliance with records laws has increased 16.4 percent YoY.

25% became more concerned with records compliance

Public records compliance issues on social media have become front of mind for more agencies and districts. Which comes as no surprise, as we’ve seen the number of legal cases around social media for public entities increase steadily over the last few years. The good news is that there appears to be an increased understanding of how to manage controversial topics. And one of the best ways to remain compliant and help mitigate risk is with a good policy (both internal and external). You can check out examples of social media policies and more on maintaining compliance here.

Want Even More Insights?

How often should you be posting? Which platforms are seeing increases in usage? Is Instagram the place to reach your audience? Are public entities making their way onto TikTok? Overall, it’s evident that the events of 2020 accelerated digital, giving social media a boost that’s expected to last. So it’s important that you have a sound strategy, and that you’re properly managing your resources and time. Discover the answers to these questions and more in the full 2021 State of Social Media in the Public Sector Report.