TikTok might not be the first channel that springs to mind regarding government social media.
The video platform’s most popular content categories include topics like entertainment, dance, and pranks – not necessarily the sort of thing you’d expect a government agency to be posting.
There are lots of other social platforms, and you likely don’t have the time or budget to focus on all of them. So you’re better off giving TikTok a wide berth, right?
TikTok excels at reaching people who don’t engage with other forms of social media. One in four of its users aren’t active on any other platform.
And it’s not just for Gen Zers. Half of TikTok members are over 30, while one-third are aged 40+.
Like the sound of TikTok? Do you want to utilize it in your government social media strategy but aren’t sure where to start? Don’t worry because this article explores ten agencies thriving on TikTok (and the secrets to how they’re doing it).
1. City of Minneapolis: Create Topical Content
Social media isn’t a vacuum; unless you’re a celebrity or a household name, you can’t just talk about the stuff you want to talk about and expect everyone else to find it interesting.
While every government agency does important work, they don’t exactly have celebrity status. So people aren’t going to engage with your content simply because they want to learn about what you do.
It pays to tap into topical events and themes, just like the City of Minneapolis does.
They pack their TikTok full of on-trend content, covering issues like high gas prices.
@cityminneapolis Don’t let gas prices get you down. You have other options! #numtot #publictransportation ♬ original sound – Holls
Plus, a post about Duolingo owl’s apparent desire to marry Dua Lipa (try explaining that to your parents).
@cityminneapolis So @Dua Lipa is in #Minneapolis today. I gotchu @duolingo ♬ original sound – There I Ruined It
Notably, the City of Minneapolis always ties its posts back to the city itself. The gas prices post allowed it to discuss the city’s public transport links, while the city used the Dua Lipa post to promote the Target Center, one of Minneapolis’ biggest attractions.
2. Sioux Falls Fire Rescue: Focus On Your People
Because TikTok is all about video, it’s a fantastic platform for showcasing the amazing people who work at your government agency.
Featuring employees allows you to promote your agency and the important work you do.
Sioux Falls Fire Rescue clearly understands the value of telling human stories. At the time of writing, it’s racked up close to 180,000 followers and over 1.6 million likes, but its most popular post — with almost 940,000 views — shows one of its team members going through the demands of a training session.
@siouxfallsfirerescue Little bit of training at 3 this afternoon! #firefighter #siouxfalls #fftraining ♬ original sound – fireangel17
It demonstrates both the physical challenge of working for a fire department and the technical skill of responding promptly to an emergency.
3. AMTRAK: Keep It Simple
If you’ve ever heard of Francis Bourgeois, you’ll know that train-related content is bizarrely popular on TikTok.
That makes the platform a fantastic fit for AMTRAK’s government social media strategy.
AMTRAK currently has 859,000 likes and 86,600 followers on TikTok. That’s almost half the size of its Twitter following, despite the fact AMTRAK joined Twitter well over a decade ago.
Best of all, its most-viewed post is super simple: a 46-second “tour” of the organization’s coach seats.
@amtrak When your Coach seats are better than most Airlines’ Business Class. #Amtok #Coach #Travel ♬ Shipyard Sample OriginalMix – Official Sound Studio
The success of their channel shows you don’t need to come up with any kind of advanced concept or sophisticated storyline to cut through on TikTok.
Keep your videos short, sweet, and engaging, and your audience will follow.
4. City of Tampa: Offer Behind-the-Scenes Content
People have little reason to engage with your TikTok content if they can find the same thing elsewhere.
One way to get around this is to offer people a behind-the-scenes look at life in your government agency — especially if you can base it around a high-profile event.
The City of Tampa shows us how to get it right with this video from its 2022 St Patrick’s Day festivities.
@cityoftampa Happy #stpatricksday from #Tampa! Did you attend #RiverOGreen? ? We used eco-friendly dye to turn the river Kelly green! #stpaddys #tampabay #DowntownTampa #riverwalk #tampariverwalk #riverdyeing #tampaproud #cityoftampa ♬ original sound – City of Tampa
Like many other US cities, Tampa dyes its river green on March 17th. But it’s not enough to simply show people the River O’Green — hundreds or thousands of other accounts could be posting the same content.
Instead, the City of Tampa showed the process of the river being dyed and explained how the dye it uses is eco-friendly. And it worked. The video achieved nearly 39,000 likes and more than 680,000 views!
5. Wisconsin Dept of Natural Resources: Give People What They Want
Scroll back up to the top of this article, and you’ll see that outdoorsy videos lie just outside the top 10 most popular content categories on TikTok, with an impressive two billion hashtag views.
So it’s no surprise to see Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources using the platform to great effect, attracting almost 65,000 followers and 600,000 likes.
One of its best-performing posts showcases the recently built Eagle Tower at Peninsula State Park.
@widnr #OutWiGo #PeninsulaStatePark #EagleTower #NatureLover #GoOutside #Exploring #WisconsinCheck #Nature #Hiking #SummerVibes #DidYouKnow ♬ Let’s Groove – absolutesnacc
Like AMTRAK’s example, simple and on-brand is often the key. This post highlights the impressive views from the tower and gives background information about the attraction.
If your government agency covers a category with natural appeal to viewers on TikTok, lean into it!
6. City of Columbus: Spread the Word About Your Work
Many people simply aren’t aware of all the great work a government agency is doing.
As a video platform, TikTok gives you the chance to spread the word by clearly demonstrating the value you provide.
The City of Columbus gives us a great example of this with a video that taps into consumer concern about high gas prices.
@cityofcolumbus The Dept of Public Safety, Support Services division, protects consumers at the gas pump #Edutok #fyp #safety #takeover ♬ FEEL THE GROOVE – Queens Road, Fabian Graetz
The video explains how the Department of Public Safety performs gas pump checks to ensure drivers aren’t being ripped off or sold hazardous fuel.
That’s an issue many motorists are worried about right now, which explains how the video has notched up over 450,000 views.
7. Coweta County Sheriff’s Office: Show Something Unexpected
Anyone who works in government and social media knows there’s a lot of content out there, with millions of videos being uploaded every day on TikTok.
So if you’re going to stand out from the crowd, you need to show your audience something that stops them in their tracks while scrolling.
Coweta County Sheriff’s Office got this right with a post of its officers getting tased as part of their mandatory training.
@cowetacountysheriff LAW ENFORCEMENT TRAINING #detentionofficers #copsoftiktok #training #ccso ♬ original sound – Coweta County Sheriff’s Office
It’s a striking video that’s achieved more than one million likes and almost eight million views at the time of writing.
8. City of Houston: Engage With Your Community
When it comes to starting a two-way conversation with your audience, TikTok might not be the first platform that springs to mind.
But the City of Houston has shown that it’s not just possible to strike up a meaningful dialog on TikTok — it can deliver exceptional results.
The city took the time to respond to TikTok users who had questions about its attempts to crack down on the theft of catalytic converters.
That might not sound like a fascinating subject matter, yet this single reply generated an incredible 8.7 million views:
@cityofhouston Reply to @beardedadbod2.0 #safetyhack #houstonpolice #catalyticconverter ♬ original sound – City of Houston
9. The Kennedy Center: Drive Engagement With Day-In-the-Life Content
Whether or not your agency is in a traditionally “exciting” space, we can guarantee that something interesting happens there every day.
In this example from The Kennedy Center, actors Abigail Barlow and Emily Bear tell us about a day in their life preparing for a performance of Bridgerton the Musical.
@kennedy.center Come follow our day for our 50th anniversary performance at the lovely Kennedy Center! #bridgertonmusical @abigailbarlowww @emilythebear ♬ original sound – Abigail Barlow
It’s a highly engaging content format that can span multiple videos, with this particular video series racking up close to 700,000 views.
10. City of Oneonta: A Little Humor Goes a Long Way
While it’s not easy to be funny, you can really cut through the noise if you get it right on TikTok.
The City of Oneonta, Alabama, is an excellent example of this. Despite only posting 42 videos on TikTok, it’s amassed a following of 119,000 people — almost 20 times the city’s population!
Humor plays a huge part in this. The City of Oneonta’s TikTok presence revolves around Mayor Richard M. Phillips, who shares videos of himself asking the local fire service to lend him a flame thrower.
@cityofoneonta Is it a bad idea? Mayor shenanigans. #oneontaal #oneonta #cityofoneonta #alabama #justhavingfun ♬ original sound – City of Oneonta, Alabama
He also attempts to borrow a tank from the police department.
@cityofoneonta Mayor Shenanigans – The Full Tank #oneontaal #justhavingfun #cityofoneonta #alabama ♬ original sound – City of Oneonta, Alabama
Sure, humor can be risky. But suppose you’re already considering TikTok for your government social media strategy. In that case, likely, you’re not planning a bunch of dry, corporate-style content, so don’t be afraid to try a little comedy (when appropriate).
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