Skip to main content

We’ve updated our Social Media Playbook

An iPhone displaying the social media icons for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat and LinkedInSince we created the GDS Social Media Playbook, the number of users on social media has grown exponentially.

In 2015, Instagram had 400 million worldwide users. Today there are 1 billion Instagram users. YouTube also has more than a billion users - about one-third of all people on the internet.

All these users, plus the new features many of the platforms have developed, meant the playbook was due another update.  

We deliberately kept this published as a playbook, “a notional range of possible tactics in any sphere of activity”, so we can regularly update it to reflect the constantly evolving social media landscape.

It’s our way of promoting best practice and our recommendations, but it’s not intended to be an exhaustive guide for all public sector organisations.

The key changes include updates to our Instagram and YouTube guidance, scheduling, referencing tools and video content, which you can read more on below. Lots of the original advice remains relevant - including the objectives and community management section - and has merely been refreshed.  


Promotional images for our Instagram Stories feature, inviting people to ask 3 GDS staff questions to find out more about their roles
We have started to experiment with Instagram Stories to allow our audience to find out more about our staff

One of areas we focused on updating was our Instagram channel @gdsteam. The platform’s Stories feature is something we're newly experimenting with. We’ve found it a successful way of engaging potential future GDS employees to ask questions on what working here is like.

The Playbook has screenshots of what works well for the GDS Instagram audience and advice such as posts should ideally have 9 hashtags.


A screengrab of GDS's YouTube channel showing videos on content including GOV.UK Verify, diversity and inclusion at GDS and why we code in the open
Our refreshed YouTube channel

GDS’ YouTube channel has undergone a revamp, which will be blogged about in the coming months. It has a new look and feel, and we are taking a more strategic approach to creating content.

In addition to the 8 top tips which still hold true, we’re focusing more on analytics and optimising the video descriptions for search engine optimisation (SEO).

Other updates

While the entire Playbook has been given an update, these other sections have particularly been given an overhaul:

The GDS Social Media Playbook is designed to evolve and adapt based on trends, user needs and the feedback of those who use it.

We’re also keen to learn about the work other public sector organisations are doing in this area so please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Read the Social Media Playbook in full and subscribe to our blog for updates.

Sharing and comments

Share this page


  1. Comment by Jennie Rich posted on

    Interesting read. Thank you. 🙂

  2. Comment by Sarah Mackenzie-Briggs posted on

    Currently at CSEP I am leading on updating the Social Media policy and would be really keen for a colleague in GDS to come on board and support. Please could someone get in touch?

    • Replies to Sarah Mackenzie-Briggs>

      Comment by Louise Mullan posted on

      Hi Sarah,

      Thanks for the comment.

      We'd would be more than happy to share our social media know how. I'll be in touch via email to arrange.

      • Replies to Louise Mullan>

        Comment by Olivia Roe posted on

        Hey Louise, this is really interesting 🙂 I'm creating a social media strategy for DVSA, and it'd be really helpful to get some advice and guidance on this. Would someone be able to get in touch with me, please? Thank you

        • Replies to Olivia Roe>

          Comment by Louise Mullan posted on

          Hi Olivia, thanks for your comment. I'd be more than happy to get in touch and chat.

          • Replies to Louise Mullan>

            Comment by cassie waterfield posted on

            Hi Louise

            I'm also looking for some help and support in terms of social media and the operational delivery profession. Could we link up and have a chat?

  3. Comment by S Marsh posted on

    Can we back track a bit, please? What is a playbook? I think this article assumes knowledge that most ordinary human beings don't have.

    • Replies to S Marsh>

      Comment by Genevieve Hassan posted on

      Hi S - we try not to assume prior knowledge, which is why we defined a playbook in the post as “a notional range of possible tactics in any sphere of activity". Hope that helps.

      • Replies to Genevieve Hassan>

        Comment by Chris posted on

        This 'playbook' sounds a lot like 'guidance' to me.

        • Replies to Chris>

          Comment by Genevieve Hassan posted on

          Hi Chris - We're not issuing this as guidance because we're not mandating this is what others must do. Because we work in the open we're sharing how we work with social media and what we think is best practice.

  4. Comment by Melanie Harper posted on

    Thanks for the update Louise and I shall be investigating the links, just for awareness overhauled needs to be changed to overhaul, (under Other Updates section) ;o)