Social media strategy: Where should you post your status?

This infographic was making the rounds through all my different social networks, so that I wanted to pick it up and link to it here as well. The graphic is certainly meant to amuse, but I believe that there is some truth in it and I would like to add a few thoughts.

Looking at the shear number of users, with about 25 million users Google+ has not yet reached maturity nor can it truly compete with the over 800 million users subscribed to Facebook. Over 500 million users return to Facebook on a daily basis and it has the most mature social sharing model – including third party pages, such as social sharing functions of what users read on the Internet (see for example the Washington Post’s social reading applications), what kind of music people are listening to (see for example Facebook’s newest addition Spotify) or other content that users find interesting and are willing to broadcast to their network of friends.

Foursquare – an application that allows users to broadcast their geo-location to their friends (similar to the places function on Facebook) is still restricted to users with smartphones and in my opinion a niche network with a huge future potential.

What the infographic is missing is that many users are using a combination of all of these services – check-ins on Foursquare can be automatically broadcasted to Twitter and Facebook. Twitter retweets or updates go out automatically to Facebook – catering to both networks at the same time. In addition, other type of content such as blog posts can be automatically distributed through the networked blogs function to Facebook and Twitter and Google+.

What is more interesting to look at is how people actually use these different channels. Here is my suggestion for government agencies and departments on how to use the different channels:

  1. Use Facebook for frequent updates to reach people where they login on a daily basis – and most likely want to receive all their news. Allow comments among your followers and subscribers – increase your own social awareness on topics that arise.
  2. Use Twitter for short updates to pull people to the content you want them to see on your own website. Also use it to provide information on your specialty area. Listen in to conversations on issues that might be of (current or future) concern of your agency – understand who the actors are and be prepared to be part of the conversation. In addition, Twitter is a great tool for timely updates, react to rumors and to provide the correct information.
  3. Take a look at NARA’s use of Foursquare for first ideas on how to incorporate a location-based social networking service into a mission-focused tool.
  4. LinkedIn has proven to be a successful tool for professional discussions around issues that people would like to take out of their (private/personal) Facebook environments and want to discuss with their peers in a professional environment. For that matter, GovLoop provides a highly interactive environment and an audience of over 50,000 public sector professionals as well.

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About Ines Mergel

I am Full Professor of Public Administration at the Department of Politics and Public Administration at University of Konstanz, Germany. Previously, I served as Assistant and then Associate Professor (with tenure) at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University, NY. In my research, I focus on informal social networks in the public sector and the adoption and diffusion of digital service innovations in government organizations. I teach classes on social media management, digital government, public management, and social network analysis.

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