What can communications professionals in government learn from a new business-focussed social media report? Quite a lot actually.

In late May the 2014 Yellow Social Media Report was released. Here are 6 lessons for your comms and social media team.

1) Facebook is tops, but look for other opportunities

Facebook is still top dog. The huge mountain in the graphic below shows this – 95% of respondents use it – compared to just 24% for its nearest rival, LinkedIn.

What surprised me in this graphic is that Google+ was mentioned by respondents as much as Twitter and even more than SnapChat and Pinterest.

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How can we use this data?

Although Facebook still has the numbers, its shrinking reach is forcing page administrators to look at other options. Is it time to start using Google+? What opportunities are there to use other social networks? For example, if you are running a project targeted at young people, is there an opportunity to use SnapChat or WhatsApp?

Regional differences

There is some fantastic information in the report about regional differences of social media platforms.

For example,  29% of people in Queensland use Instagram compared to only 13% in Tasmania. This could vary widely depending if you are in a metro or rural area.

But don’t take these figures as gospel: the best way to find out what social platforms and apps your community is using is by asking them.

Other measures of Australian social media use

Also have a look at the excellent monthly Social Media statistics Australia.

2) Post early morning as well as early evening

Most of us realised a long time ago that posting during business hours was not the best time to reach our audience. With the average post life on Facebook only 2-3 hours, you need to post when people are online to get the best reach. 

Statistics from the Yellow Social Media report back this up: 58% of Australians use social media after work / in the evening and 48% use it before they go to bed. This shows just how important the 6.30pm slot is for your posts.

How can we use this data?

How many of us post early in the morning in the 6.30am to 7.30am time slot? A whopping 42% of respondents checked social media first thing in the morning. Posting during this time slot could be especially useful for reminding people of events happening that day.


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On Friday 13 June, we posted on Facebook at 6am to promote an event that was happening that morning in one of our parks. Brisbane radio station B105 were there along with Channel 9. The results were good: 3500+ people saw the post, with 65 likes and 7 comments (our page has 7200 followers).

Is your organisation set up for posting early in the morning / at night / on the weekend? Do you have flexible working arrangements in place? Do you have holding statements ready for when people ask a question that you can’t answer out of business hours?

Although you can schedule posts for any time of the day, it’s always best to have someone monitoring the post after it goes out for questions and comments.

3) Understand why people follow brands

Why do people follow brands on social media? Here are some of the findings:

  • 62% Discounts
  • 51% Giveaways
  • 45% Tips / advice
  • 34% Event invitations
  • 34% Feedback forums

How can we use this data?

In government, we may not be able to offer discounts on rates or taxes, but there are plenty of things we can do. Here are some ideas: 

  • Exclusive invites to exhibition openings, workshops and events.
  • 2 for 1 vouchers for coffee at your art gallery / museum / local attraction cafe during slow times.
  • Competitions giving away tickets to shows at your performing arts centre. Facebook competitions now allow for people to enter by liking and commenting – an excellent way for the post to extend its reach and spread awareness about the show.
  • Tips and advice about a range of subjects: recycling, flora and fauna, saving water, energy consumption,  gardening, photography – the list is endless.
  • Feedback and consultation: how can you increase opportunities for feedback of  your services and facilities via social media?

4) The ageing face of social media

The report shows that millions of older Australians have joined social media sites for the first time. Facebook is the most popular site they use.

How can we use this data?

As your audience on Facebook gets older, how will this influence the content you post?

Christine Mackenzie of Yarra Plenty Regional Library gave a great talk at the recent ‘Social Media in the Public Sector Conference’ about how seniors find libraries non-threatening places to learn about technology.

Local government can play a key role here: is your local library running events to teach people about social media? I know mine is.

5) Smartphones are us

The PC is (almost) dead, long live the smartphone. The image below shows the shift in device usage from 2011 to 2014.

Although 70% of social media use on smartphones is through apps, the switch to mobile still has implications for communications professionals.

How can we use this data?

If you are linking to your website, infographics or online forms from social media posts, are they mobile-friendly?

There’s nothing worse than having to pinch and zoom on a smartphone to try and fill in a form.


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6) Understand why people use social media

95% of respondents said catching up with family and friends was a reason they used social networking sites.

Here are three other key statistics:

  • 64% said they like to share photographs or videos
  • 47% said they want information on news and current events
  • 9% said they want to engage with a government department

How can we use this data?

  • Encourage your followers to tag their friends or family on posts such as events, workshops and other important announcements.
  • To get information on news and current events: make your organisation the go-to news source for information. Publish information on important topics as soon as you possibly can.
  • With photography being a major reason people use social media, get your audience involved. Promote a hashtag that people can use to tag their photos of your area. Post the best ones across your social profiles. Two years ago we created the #RedlandLocal hashtag to do just that. To date we’ve crowdsourced over 1000 photos of the Redlands.
  • To engage with a government representative or department varies between 6% and 9% for 14-49 year olds, but rapidly rises to 15% for both the 50-64 and 64+ age brackets. Always provide good customer service online. Let people know the timeframe they should expect for a response and use a holding statement if you can’t answer straight away. 

A final thought

The report also asked Australians which rooms in the house they used social media in (see graphic below).

10% of Australians use social media on the toilet. This is much more popular for male respondents (17%) than female (5%).


In New South Wales they are crazy for it, with 19% of respondents fessing up to posting while on the throne.

What can we learn from this? Well, maybe that’s one statistic best left alone!

Yellow Social Media Report 2014

Have a read through the excellent Yellow Social Media Report.

What other statistics can your communications or social media team use? Let us know. 


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