Fishing For Followers With Smart Social Media Clickbait

    NAGW Navigator: Volume 1 • Issue 2 • Fall 2017

    By Bryan Bullock

    Most governments use social media to raise awareness about their organization’s news, programs and services. This is a great use of the medium, but it’s important to diversify your content strategy if you really want to get your key messages out to the masses. You need followers to see your posts, and sharing one dry news release after another will likely do little to drive engagement or win new followers.

    You need some “clickbait” in your social media content strategy – posts that you can regularly count on to drive engagement and grow your accounts. It’s best if your clickbait aligns with your broader social media and organizational communication strategy. Sprinkle this engaging content in your normal post mix and you’ve got a recipe for social media success.

    Here are few ideas for smart clickbait for governments:

    Throwback Thursdays

    Your local library or historical society likely has a wealth of old photos of your community, which may even be accessible online. People love seeing old photos, so try sharing some on social media with attribution. It’s always best when you can use an image to tell a story about your community – especially if the government is a character in that story, like the creation of an important landmark. Here’s a #TBT example from the City of Boulder.

    Community photos

    Sharing compelling photos of your community is a great way to drive engagement and help build a sense of community. You can start by sharing photos you already have access to – like staff photos over the years – but it’s even better to share images taken by community members. Photo contests are a great way to solicit images – fall photos are hit this time of year. If you don’t already have one, an Instagram account is a great way to solicit photos and you can share the images across all your social media accounts, which is what the City of Boulder does.


    When used sparingly and appropriately, animated GIFs can be very effective for grabbing attention. It’s best if you create your own GIFs, which can be done quickly and easily with Giphy’s GIF Maker. You’ll have more creative control if you make GIFs in Photoshop. You’ll want a short, engaging video clip to create the GIF or you can add animation to an image. Here’s an example of how the City of Boulder used a GIF to draw attention to bear safety.

    And more

    This list is just the tip of the iceberg. Get creative and come up with fun ways to spice up your social media feed – which is sure to keep followers engaged so they actually pay attention when you do have a critical message to share.