In Brief | Social Media

Australian Government organisations and their employees have all been affected by the rise of social media as a business tool, be it using social media to communicate with the community and stakeholders or as individuals participating online outside of work.

The following resources may help you understand social media in the context of public administration!

The Australian Communications and Media Authority define social media as: ‘a set of internet-based tools used for sharing and discussing information. It refers to user-generated information, opinion and other content shared and discussed over open digital networks’. Read their social media guidelines here.

There is no single policy that covers the use social media in the public sector, although those working in the sector should have regard for the APS Values and the Code of Conduct. The Australian Public Service Commission has recently provided guidance for public servants in the use of social media,

A number of public sector bodies have published social media policies. Some good examples are the Department of Communications and the Arts public policy, the Department of Human Services policy and video and the ACT Government social media policy video.

According to there are 224 Australian Government Twitter accounts, with a combined following of over 2.2 million and 142 Facebook accounts with over 12.3 million likes. A current list of Australian Government social media accounts is listed on including links to some state and territory accounts.

A 2015 OECD report details social media use by governments, highlighting that the main executive offices in 28 out of 35 OECD counties operated a Twitter account. The President of the United States, Barack Obama, has a following of over 75 million on Twitter and over 48 million likes on Facebook!

Does social media help with government to citizen engagement? Here’s a recent article published on The Conversation about what’s happening in the United States, with some good links to relevant research.

A great example of government use of social media that is often used as a case study is the QLD Police and their use of social media during the 2011 floods. You can read the story here. Do you know of other great examples? If so, drop us a line and share your story for a future edition.

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