Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Gov 2.0 - Social Media Growth in the Public Sector

Very interesting article on who is using social media in the public sector and WHY.


In an effort to be hip the government is moving towards implementing shiny objects without focused strategies. This may be because most social media case studies come from the private sector.

There are a number of examples of the government using gadgets, without focused strategy or purpose. For example, USA.gov has posted a Government Gadget Gallery with widgets that can be embedded into social web locations and emails. These widgets provide ways of offering thanks to the troops, and receiving environmental, family, and health news. One prominent example, the Center from Disease Control, offers 10 different widgets including a Flu Update and a Data and Statistics widget. These widgets help the CDC to pass on the latest news to health providers and the public.

Moreover, according to Socialfeds blog, the government is becoming more involved with social networking sites. “More than 150 million people around the world are now actively using Facebook and almost half of them are using Facebook every day…Now many government agencies are deploying their own version of this popular social networking site to share information and connect with niche communities.” Some examples include:

  • ExchangesConnect: The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, US Department of State’s social network connecting people looking for information on other cultures and abroad exchange programs. Launched in October 2008, the social network exceeds 7,600 members.
  • Goddard Space Flight Center: Similar to Facebook, NASA’s internal social network for its employees connects individuals allowing collaboration based on expertise and personal interests. This social network has grown from NASA’s Twitter success with the @MarsPhoenix.
  • A-Space: Requiring a security clearance, this internal social network allows 16 intelligence agencies to share useful information, organize and collaborate.
  • GovLoop.com: Steve Ressler’s is the founder of both GovLoop and co-founder of Young Government Leaders. Through both of these networks, he has demonstrated social media’s use to organize and collaborate with federal employees that are not sponsored by particular agencies.

The government is also taking part in video sharing, photo sharing and podcasting. This is a particularly useful tactic because the government has a significant supply of multimedia available. Unfortunately, quality is an issue, as is organizing content. One example of not organizing content is that the government doesn’t utilize iTunes’ government category.

However, the Virginia.gov’s YouTube presence, and both state and federal governments posting photos are good examples of utilizing these tactics. Additionally, multimedia is used both internally, as demonstrated by NASA, and externally, demonstrated by the Environmental Protection Agency. Moreover, nongovernmental media outlets such as the YouTube Blog are offering new channels for increased government transparency.

Blogging is also being undertaken by both local and federal governments and elected officials. Blogging is important because it helps with SEO and disseminates information to new audiences. There are points of consideration, however. Does an agency have the blogging talent and commitment, content generation issues, and content management necessary for a successful blog?

More people are receiving their information from social media sources, and developing relationships with top influencers is imperative. Therefore, regardless of the blogging decision, it is important to implement a comprehensive and lasting blogger outreach campaign. For more insights into government blogging, visit the Webcontent.gov website.

Peter Corbett on Technosailor blog believes that the value of social media “lies beyond creating the next Facebook or Twitter.” Rather, the value is in “…mobile applications for making citizens safer in their cities, and… apps that help our governments track their permitsprocurements better.” However, moving to this next level takes strategy and willingness for the government to creatively use these technologies in new ways. and

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