While federal workers are not necessarily learning new dance moves on TikTok during the workday, they are seeing work-related ads on Facebook, connecting on LinkedIn and following current events on Twitter. Personal devices are present in the workplace and provide access to social media throughout the day. But as with any digital media, preferences can change, usage varies by age and the level of influence can differ by platform.
To understand federal decision-makers’ media usage habits and trends, for over a decade, Market Connections conducts an annual Federal Media & Marketing Study (FMMS). In response to the uptick in the use of social media among the general public, within this study we also ask federal decision-makers about the top social media websites they are using.
Do Feds Access Social Media at Work?
People often think that security measures may keep federal employees from checking social media at work, forcing employees to drop their phones at security or leave them in their cars. However, the study found three-quarters of employees can carry personal or work-provided mobile devices into their work environment, providing them a device on which they can possibly check social media. It also found one in ten check their accounts during the workday (in the office), and one in five check during their lunch break. Not surprising, peak usage happens in the evening when four in ten said they check their social media.
What Social Media Sites Are Feds Visiting?
Facebook continues to top the list with three-quarters (76%) of respondents saying they visit the site. In addition, one-third of respondents (38%) noted being daily Facebook users. This is no surprise considering the majority demographic of survey respondents, half of which are 55 or over and one-quarter being 45-54 matches that of Facebook’s fastest-growing audience. (According to AARP, a recent poll found that Facebook use had an 18 percentage point increase among those 50 to 64 years old and a 14 percentage point jump among people 65 and older.)
Second to Facebook, over half (56%) of the respondents listed visiting LinkedIn. However, interesting to note, while it was the second most-used social site, the frequency is much less, with only one in ten (11%) being daily users.
Instagram and Twitter have continued to experience some growth among federal workers, yet both tied for third with four out of ten federal employees sharing they use these sites.
Should We Consider Marketing to Feds on Social Media?
Social media is being used and is certainly a viable way to reach the federal audience, however, questions remain:
- Who are they following on social media?
- How are they using social media?
- How would they react to work-related advertising on social media?
- Are they concerned about privacy?
Are there other challenges and issues for those trying to market to feds via social media that should be considered?
The Federal Media & Marketing Study scratches the surface. To get a deeper understanding of social media usage among federal employees, in support of our federal marketing clients, we conducted a survey to answer these questions and more.
See results and insights from this study at our upcoming webinar: “How Are Federal Employees Using Social Media in the Workplace?” on December 12 from 2-3 PM ET.
Lessons from the Federal Media and Marketing Study
Federal government employees are visiting social media sites more frequently than ever before. Across the board, social media use has increased, including upticks in the use of Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and Twitter. But the increases in all of these paled in comparison to the millennial darling Instagram-54% growth from 2017 to 2018! We’ll go into more on Instagram in a little bit…
Personal mobile devices have blurred the lines between one’s work and personal lives, especially on social media. Even if work devices have certain social media sites blocked, personal devices, a 24/7 companion for many, have made it so social media marketing can’t be ignored and can be a dynamic tool for marketers. According to the study, a majority of feds (62%) acknowledged having seen work-related advertising while they are visiting sites (including social media) for personal use, and of those, over half (57%) acknowledged having had clicked through at some point.
So, you may ask “How do I make sure my company’s social media content is engaging and clickable?” Social Media Today points to visualization: “Visuals are key to maximizing your social media presence, and the emergence of image-based formats like Stories has only exacerbated this.”
Now back to the noted rise in Instagram… the growth in popularity of Instagram and story functions across social media sites is driven by imagery, including infographics, and can increase your visibility and help drive click-through and readership. Don’t worry that your brand will be co-located with consumer brands and pictures of pets; the mash up of those things is what makes it more visible and appealing to today’s audience. The “work brain” and “home brain” operate together in today’s younger audience.
To help B2G marketers, Market Connections looks at resources and best practices to help our clients achieve goals for reaching their public-sector audiences.
With that in mind, we are sharing Social Media Today’s article on 2019 Social Media Optimization Guide. This guide provides the latest data on dimensions needed for all aspects of visual imagery on social media including popular sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram, and will help prevent marketers from making the most common mistakes such as using incorrect sizes or resolutions that can inadvertently make posts or sites appear unpolished and unprofessional.
Market Connections’ action-based research can also support your federal marketing needs by identifying the best platforms to reach your target audience with our Federal Media & Marketing dashboard or creating primary, research-based thought leadership and marketing content (including infographics, white papers, webinars and blogs) you can use to share across social media and other market channels.
Learn how social media and other marketing tactics should fit into your overall strategy for reaching federal audiences. Watch a recording of part one of our three-part webinar series, Marketing Tactics & the Federal Environment.
Finally, we invite you to join us for our upcoming webinar: Media Habits in a Time of Change: A Federal Media & Marketing Study Webinar on Wednesday, February 13 from 2-2:30 PM EST.