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Successful social media communication for public authorities

6 min read

What goes on behind the (grey) facade of your authority? Citizens can often only guess... But instead of leaving them in the dark, you can take the initiative and enter into dialogue with them. The best place to reach citizens is where they spend their time every day anyway: on social networks. By successful social media communication, you can strengthen the image of your authority and create trust in your work.

Read on to find out how to develop the right social media strategy for your authority and which channels you can use to reach which target group!

Why should public authorities consider external communication?

Thanks to the advanced digitalisation of local authorities, your authority is probably already online in some way. Why should you also use social media in public administration? These 3 reasons definitely speak in favour of it:

Creating more proximity to citizens

With posts on Facebook and the like, you can easily reach citizens. You can share information there without consuming a lot of resources (in terms of personnel, time and material). With the respective content, you decide which public image your office or authority wants to build.

For example, if the mayor regularly provides personal insights into his everyday work, (perceived) barriers between citizens and the administration are broken down. And the (grey) façade mentioned at the beginning is given interesting digital windows.

Building trust with the authorities

If citizens learn first-hand about the processes in your organisation, you will generate understanding for the work of your colleagues. If the actions of your organisation become transparent, you will strengthen credibility and trust.

You can also give citizens the opportunity to actively participate in municipal decision-making processes on social media. Wishes and praise are heard just as much as questions and suggestions.

Quick & reliable information

With social media in public administration, you can do away with the prejudice that public authorities are "sluggish". You can share information (almost) in real time. This not only demonstrates drive. You can also immediately take the wind out of the sails of problematic fake news. Especially in turbulent times, you create a sense of security.

How to make social media communication of public authorities a success? 5 valuable tips!

Ask yourself the following 5 questions. This will help you and your team to develop a successful social media strategy.

1. What do you want to achieve with social media communication?
Define one or more goals. Do you want to raise the profile of your authority? "Promote" the digital services or encourage greater citizen participation? Perhaps the focus is also on building an attractive image.

2. Who is your target group?
Who do you want to reach? Is it primarily about better contact with citizens? Perhaps you would also like to network more with external partners or are you looking for specialists to support your team? Which content you should post on which platforms depends on your target group.

3. What technical and human resources do you have at your disposal?
What about the digital equipment for creating articles and posts? And how much time and expertise does your team have for this? Are there employees who are already skilled in image editing, video editing and the like? Or is there a need for training or a social media workshop? This key data will determine the extent to which you can regularly add content to social media platforms.

4. Are your articles and posts accessible?
As public organisations, public authorities should also communicate on social media without barriers. When creating content, make sure, among other things, that

  • images have alternative texts,
  • videos get subtitles,
  • images and graphics are labelled with image descriptions,
  • there is no red and green in infographics.

5. Which posts for which channel?
If you want to strengthen trust in your authority with social media posts, the principle of quality over quantity naturally applies. Even if the tone of voice is quite relaxed on many channels, you should always offer your target group informative added value in terms of content. Not every platform is suitable for every topic. The content and style of the posts should also match the respective channel.

Which channels are suitable for social media communication of public authorities?

Which social network is the right one for your organisation depends on the objectives of your social media communication on the one hand and your target group on the other. Here is a brief overview of the most popular platforms:


In Germany, more than 20 million people use Facebook every day. Here you can get in touch with citizens directly. Citizens can use the comment function or send direct messages for a simple exchange.
Suitable for: Sharing information, building trust, more proximity to citizens, direct dialogue between authorities and citizens
Users by age group (in Germany): 34 % of 14 to 29-year-olds and 50 % of 30 to 49-year-olds use Facebook at least once a week (To the study, as of 01/2024)


More than 15 million users visit the photo and video platform every month. You can bring people in live with pictures, short stories and videos from everyday life at your authority. Citizens can comment on posts and stories or react to them with smileys, for example. There are also interactive elements such as polls and the option to write private messages. There is an emotionally positive mood on Instagram and people want to receive new inspiring impressions.
Suitable for: Image building and cultivation, more proximity to citizens, trust through authentic insights
Users by age group (in Germany): 79 % of 14 to 29-year-olds and 46 % of 30 to 49-year-olds use Instagram at least weekly (as of 01/2024)

X (formerly Twitter)

With short messages, you can quickly and easily pass on current events or information. However, this channel is less likely to reach citizens than activists, press representatives or interest groups. X therefore serves more as a multiplier for your content.
Suitable for: Press and public relations, networking
Users by age group (in Germany): 14 % of 14 to 29-year-olds and 12 % of 30 to 49-year-olds use X at least weekly (as of 01/2024)

The video platforms YouTube and TikTok

Longer videos on YouTube or shorter clips on TikTok are sometimes a better way of explaining things than text or images. Younger citizens in particular like to use these channels to get information.
Suitable for: Sharing information, explaining (complex) contexts
Users by age group (in Germany): For TikTok: 41 % of 14 to 29-year-olds and 18 % of 30 to 49-year-olds use Tiktok at least weekly (as of 01/2024) / For YouTube: 77 % of 14 to 19-year-olds and 73 % of 20 to 29-year-olds use YouTube (To the study, as of 01/2024)

The career networks LinkedIn and Xing

LinkedIn and Xing are social networks for professional contacts, whereby LinkedIn operates internationally and Xing is limited to German-speaking countries. In the DACH region, Xing has around 21 million users and LinkedIn around 19 million. While LinkedIn has numerous functions of a "classic" social network, Xing is more focussed on providing information and support for job searches and recruiting.
Suitable for: Addressing professionals, exchange with other authorities

How do I prepare my team for the start?

Introducing social media in public administration clearly means a change in the press and public relations work of your authority. External communication via social media is probably new territory for your team. With an appreciative error culture, you can ensure that your employees tackle this exciting challenge with motivation and creativity: Mistakes are okay and a welcome opportunity to learn.

A defined approval process ensures security, especially in the initial phase. This means that everyone involved always knows what content they are allowed to publish themselves. They also know when they should consult you as the team leader.

Organising social media communication in a collaboration tool

In practice, the introduction of a collaboration tool has also proven to be very helpful. An all-in-one tool like Stackfield in particular offers various functions that support your team in the development and implementation of a social media strategy:

  • Your team can develop ideas for articles or posts together on the interactive whiteboard.
  • For clear task management, you can assign clearly defined to-dos to your employees and manage them in a central location. This is particularly easy with a Kanban board.
  • Kanban-Board auf Stackfield
    Kanban board on Stackfield for task management
  • All relevant documents and files for social media are stored centrally on the platform and are available to all participants at any time and from anywhere.
  • Your team can define the publication of the contributions in the timeline (Gantt chart).

With Stackfield, your authority is of course opting for a GDPR-compliant solution that meets the highest data protection requirements and is certified in accordance with ISO 27001, 27017 and 27018.

Conclusion: Better public image thanks to successful social media communication

Successful social media communication offers the opportunity to strengthen the image of your administration and build even more trust in your expertise and reliability among citizens. Once you have familiarised yourself with the "rules" of the various platforms, creating and publishing social media content will soon be part of your daily business.

A collaboration tool like Stackfield makes it particularly easy for your team to get started with social media communication in your public authority. It will also provide you with effective support for your social media strategy in the long term!

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Cristian Mudure
About the Author:
Cristian Mudure is the Founder and CEO of Stackfield. He loves digital business models and spends his spare time on the tennis court.
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