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Social Media according to your strategy

Why your city should be on Facebook

Facebook is a popular social media platform – and citizens would like to use it to access municipal services. Facebook is a popular social media platform – and citizens would like to use it to access municipal services.


As part of its social media strategy, the Dutch city of Groningen uses social media to provide residents with information and public service updates. The local council also wants to use social media to increase engagement with citizens: it has just created a Facebook page and also uses Twitter for broadcasting municipal news and as a customer service channel. There is even a mobile app, MeldStad, for reporting potholes, faulty street lights and similar issues.

A student from Groningen’s Hanze University of Applied Sciences surveyed members of the city’s citizens’ panel to find out more about how they use social media and their thoughts on how the council should use social media channels to improve its service.

The research found that nearly three-quarters of residents used some form of social media, mostly Facebook (78%) and YouTube (84%). Only 28% of citizens said they used Twitter.

Almost half of respondents (44%) said they thought their municipality should be present on social media channels, saying the municipality needed to provide its citizens with as many ways to communicate as possible.

These finding suggest that municipalities should use Facebook to reach and interact with as many citizens as possible. Perhaps a YouTube channel might also be popular, perhaps for informational videos to promote products, or to encourage participation in events and discussions.

Since Groningen launched its municipal Facebook page, it has received nearly 7000 ‘likes’ – the highest number for municipal pages across the entire country.

Demand vs usage

Despite high expectations, most citizens have not used social media to contact their local council. Less than 7% of people surveyed had communicated with the municipality through social media; however, most people who had not used these channels were unaware of their availability. Most people also said they would prefer to use a smartphone app to report issues or get in touch rather than more visible social media posts.

“Aligning your channel strategy to the media use of your target audience seems like a logical thing to do,” remarks Selin Öztürk who carried out the research. “But obviously you need to know how your audiences use social media and other channels first.”

“44% of citizens expect their municipality to be on social media”

Story in numbers

Most popular social media channels in Groningen:

  • YouTube: 84%

  • Facebook: 78%

  • Twitter: 28%

Further reading

  • Full report: “Social Media for service delivery” (Selin Öztürk)

Web links

  • Are you ready for Facebook? Measure your organisation’s social media maturity


Renske Stumpel, Municipality of Groningen, Netherlands. Email:

Renske Stumpel is project leader for the municipality of Groningen in the Opening Up project.