When we first set out to benchmark how public communicators are using social media to communicate in 2020, COVID-19 had not yet made its mark on global society. Our intent was to research and analyze how day-to-day communications between public agencies and their constituents play out on social media and identify the current trends and best practices.

We reached out to thousands of communicators in government, law enforcement, education, and other public sector verticals and received over 620 responses. We asked about who was using social media in their agency, what the challenges are, how they produce content, and what tools and techniques they use to manage both internal and external contributors. We also asked what platforms performed best and how they measure that success. Finally, we asked about how social media content is treated as public record. Several respondents were invited to share their hopes, dreams, and additional insights through 1:1 interviews.

When the world went upside down in March, we asked ourselves, is this still relevant? Does COVID-19 change what we learned? Do the social media best practices developed between 2007 and now still apply?

It quickly became apparent that the answer to all of these questions is a resounding, “YES!”

While words like “unprecedented” keep being used to describe our current predicament, the reality is that crises aren’t new. What feels new is that we are all facing one collective, diffuse crisis instead of the more familiar acute and local ones such as hurricanes, floods, and fires. The same social media strategies and crisis communications techniques apply — rumor control, rapid response, managing critical comments — these skills are evergreen.

With that realization, we pressed on with our analysis and synthesized the results for you in a 26 page, infographic filled, State of Social Media in the Public Sector benchmark report. What we learned will help validate some of your social strategies, and perhaps inspire you to level up others. In this report you will find:

  • The one social platform communicators can’t live without
  • The gap between social media’s value and the resources allotted to manage it
  • The biggest trends in social media in 2020 and beyond
  • The surprising frequency of social media records requests
  • A simple checklist to help you measure and uplevel your social media strategy

The conclusion we drew from both the survey results and these conversations is that while social media has become indispensable for public sector communicators, the funding, staffing, and resources available to take advantage of it are still lacking. Our sincere hope is that this report will help start the conversation to change that.

The State of Social Media in the Public Sector 2020