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Singapore’s Public Sector Heavily Banks on Instagram for Digital Conversations

In the early 2000s, an email or an SMS would be considered the most sophisticated form of digital conversation. Fast track to 2022, not much has changed except for the digital conversation platforms evolving into a whole new ecosystem that favors user privacy, security, and guarantees experience with seamless delivery. Digital conversations are getting more focused, transparent, and contextual across the internet. Everybody has a digital footprint today, and this allows listeners and viewers to accurately measure the degree of trust they can bestow on their favorite brands. This is called brand trust in brand marketing parlance. With Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and now TikTok and Instagram the idea of digital conversations have expanded further.

Instagram Becoming the King of Digital Conversations

Instagram is a very popular social media platform for smartphone users. Every day, the platform owned by Meta (erstwhile Facebook) adds thousands of new accounts and users. It is natural for marketing teams, content producers, influencers, affiliates, and business owners to incline toward Instagram to interact with their audiences. But, did you know public sector companies and government agencies are also heavily banking on Instagram for digital conversations?

According to Emplifi’s latest report, Instagram has the highest engagement rate and share-of-voice. While Twitter and Facebook remain popular media for sharing social media content, Instagram drives the highest volume of interactions.

Emplifi’s latest report titled “Singapore Government Performance Benchmark – 2021 Year in Review” report highlights how the country’s 50 statutory bodies and 16 ministries leveraged leading social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube). The agencies use these channels to increasingly engage with Singaporeans on a wide array of topics, including COVID-19 awareness, vaccination, environment, social and political conversations, and others.

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Singaporeans are Highly Active on Social Media

With 99% of the Singapore audience having at least one active social media account, the channels play a crucial role in driving engagement and actions.

In 2021, Twitter accounted for the largest proportion of published content at 53.01% or 30,671 tweets. However, interactions were 2.16%, or 158,737 interactions. Facebook, which made up over 30% of content across platforms, received the largest share of interactions at 72.9%, or 5.37 million interactions.

Interactions on Instagram rose by 12.7% in comparison to 2020, totaling 1.69M interactions, achieved through a 1.2% increase in the number of content pieces, 5,409 in 2020 to 6,219 in 2021.

Public Sector Leveraging an Omnichannel Approach for Digital Conversation

Traditionally ministries and statutory boards have leaned towards Facebook and Twitter, however, in 2021, Instagram emerged as the platform with the highest engagement rate (1.18%) and share-of-voice (70.7%). Conversely, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter saw declines in their share-of-voice.

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Among the top five most engaging campaigns, the National Parks Board (NPB) #CityInNatureSG campaign came in on top, with 191,237 interactions across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Gov.sg #IGotMyShot, MOH Covid-19 Vaccination, Gov.sg TestTraceVaccinate and MOE #OurSchoolStories campaigns complete the top 5 campaigns.

Three out of the top five campaigns saw Instagram drive the majority of interactions. #CityInNatureSG gathered 137,605 interactions (72% of total interactions), while #TestTraceVaccinate earned 82,884 interactions (84.1% of total interactions). This highlights the opportunity for government bodies to tap into Instagram to engage their ever-growing millennial and GenZ audience.

Moving ahead of static social media content, the ministries and statutory bodies also used short-form videos, which were the best performing content pieces. Singapore Tourism Board’s (STB) YouTube content skyrocketed in 2021, with a total of 32,683,601 views for the year, having released 157 videos. This took STB from 29th position in 2020 (101,583 views) to the top-performing government body by YouTube video views. The top six videos received a range of 2.5m to 7.5m views, and all six videos were part of SingapoReimagine Global Conversations series.

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“Social media emerged as a crucial platform to keep people informed and aware during the pandemic. Now, as the world gradually eases restrictions, social channels continue to prove their effectiveness to initiate two-way dialogues”, said Varun Sharma, Vice President, Asia Pacific & Japan, Emplifi.

Top Performers of 2021

In 2021, the National Environment Agency (NEA), Ministry of Health (MOH) and Ministry of Education (MOE) were the top three content publishers, while the Public Utilities Board (PUB) made a significant jump from 12th to 4th position from 2020. MOH and Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) received the highest audience engagement, with MOH the only government body to surpass two million interactions, with 96.2% of engagement taking place on Facebook. MOH, Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) and National Parks Board (NPB) drove the highest interactions.

Collectively, statutory boards produced three times more content than ministries in 2021. However, ministries received better engagement, with over 4.2 million total interactions versus over three million interactions received by statutory boards.

 User-Generated Content Drove Social Media Engagement

The report’s findings highlight the rising popularity of user-generated content (UGCs) in driving audience engagement. In comparison to 2020, the audience was 8.9% more engaged with government profiles, with almost half (48.2%) of user-generated content published in 2021. Overall, UGCs from government profiles grew 1.4 times, from 37,621 content pieces in 2020 to 54,525 content pieces in 2021. The share of interactions on UGC also saw an uplift of 1.22% to 2.38% in 2021.

In terms of method of interaction, Replies topped the engagement charts in 2021, with a lead of 39.2%, followed by Shared (34.08%) and Posts (26.72%) in 2021. This contrasts with 2020 trends which saw Shares being the most popular reaction followed by Posts and Replies.

“There has never been a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to creating content for social media. This has led government bodies to innovate their social media strategies to ensure they are reaching the right segment of the audience, with the right message at the right time. We are now starting to see many public sector bodies moving onto TikTok, including STB, National Parks and NEA. We expect TikTok to become more widely used in 2022 as organizations become more comfortable with the format. The mix of social channels to drive public action and engagement is good to see and sets a great case study for marketers,” added Sharma.

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