Barcelona is one of the two biggest cities in Spain with 1.8M residents. It’s governed by a city council made up of 41 city councillors who are responsible for the city’s municipal infrastructure and putting taxpayer’s dollars to efficient use.

The Barcelona City Council wanted to develop a social media strategy that aligned with their innovative and forward-thinking policies. Before the council knew it, they had hundreds of inactive and off-brand social accounts. This is the story of how they got organised and engaged their citizens on social.  

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    increase in follower growth YOY

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    growth in engagement YOY

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    growth of social reach within a year

What they did

Over 600 social media accounts representing one city

The capital of the Catalunya region prides itself in innovation. As such, the city council driving municipal decisions and infrastructure must lead the charge for progress, innovation, open data, transparency, and participation.

While 8,000 council workers strived towards becoming a social city, there was no clear social media strategy in place to support the goal. As a result, digital communications became unorganised, inefficient, and without focus. Barcelona City Council had over 600 social media accounts—many of which were inactive, off-brand, or had gone rogue.

The challenge: To tell their story and communicate with constituents

Barcelona City Council was challenged to become a social organisation and tell their story more effectively to constituents. This meant they had to build guidelines, focus their social media plan, train employees, and unify their online presence.

As a part of the solution, Thais Ruiz De Alda, the Digital Marketing Manager, onboarded several key departments on to Hootsuite and established a plan. “It wasn’t a matter of empowering employees to be social,” says Ruiz De Alda. “The issue was whether they were thinking strategically about it or not.”

How they did it

3 steps Barcelona City Council took to organise social media

1. Organising social media efforts

To understand Barcelona City Council’s social media landscape at the time, Ruiz De Alda did an audit. She looked at who was on social, which accounts were inactive, who the ‘social media superstars’ were, and what existing engagement processes were in place.

After conducting the audit, Ruiz De Alda downsized from 600 social profiles to 350 to ensure the social channels were consistent and accurately serving the broader objectives of the city. These 350 profiles represent small online communities: from municipal neighbourhoods to public libraries and other public services.

With essential profiles established, the need for a more purposeful approach became clear. Ruiz De Alda received executive buy-in to begin implementing a strategy that better catered to the city and its citizens needs.

2. Establishing a brand voice

To meet their key objectives, Ruiz De Alda created two different brand voices: and Bcn_ajuntament. is a community-focused voice represented across many channels. It aims to increase awareness with locals by sharing stories of Barcelona’s history, future, and people. #Barcelonainspira is the main hashtag for engaging on these channels.

Bcn_ajuntament, on the other hand, discusses new laws, City Hall discussions, and issues related to governmental actions. With brand voices in place, Ruiz De Alda strategised content that would resonate best with each channel’s goals.

Hootsuite not only allowed us to meet our goals, it secured our content management across the organisation.

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Thais Ruiz De Alda
Digital Marketing ManagerBarcelona City Council

3. Creating a Centre of Excellence

Even with half of the social profiles, Ruiz De Alda can’t oversee all digital communications sent on behalf of the city. Setting up a Social Media Council, or Centre of Excellence, allows her to share the responsibility with social media experts and executives. This Social Media Council collaborates to develop guidelines and standards for individual departments and specific campaigns.

“We are trying to standardise social, and through our Social Media Council, we educate people who don’t necessarily understand the value,” Ruiz De Alda tells us. She has since worked with many of the city council’s employees and community managers to educate them on how to create strategic social profiles and engage in the established best practices.

Using Hootsuite listening and collaboration features, the council can work together to solve challenges as they arise and establish appropriate responses.

Making people feel close to the social media strategy helps turn them into evangelists.

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Thais Ruiz De Alda
Digital Marketing ManagerBarcelona City Council

The Results

Showing key performance indicators (KPIs), such as increased traffic to the city’s web properties, through Hootsuite reporting helps the entire council see the value of strategic social media marketing.

Today, Ruiz De Alda has expanded her social media program to include over 50 seats in Hootsuite—meeting the growing demand of departments wanting to be more strategic and collaborative.

With the tools and education in place, Barcelona City Council is set up to properly represent the smart and innovative city they pride themselves to be. Across their official social channels, they now effectively listen to and connect with their social audience of over 5 million citizens engaging every month.

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