The State of Government Social Media

Originally posted on GovLoop

On September 13th, GovLoop hosted our first ever virtual show, the Government Innovator’s Online Summit. The virtual conference brought together nearly 1300 government innovators, and provided five trainings throughout the day. Participants had the opportunity to virtually network, download resources and attend free online trainings to help them do their job better.

Topics for the virtual show included, the State of Government Social Media, How to Advance Your Tech Career in Government, Mobile Government: Today, Tomorrow and Beyond, How To: Create a Great Government Website and a session on Project Management training for government employees.  Please follow the links at the end of this post to access a follow up blog and the archive of the webinar. This post will provide a review of the social media session. You can view an archived version of the webinar here.

In 2008, social media was just starting in government.  Agencies were experimenting with new tools like Facebook, while YouTube along with Twitter were just starting to enter the public eye. Four years later, government social media has passed the initial curiosity phase and is transitioning into being integrated as another key tool in solving problems.

The social media session was moderated by Steve Ressler and the panelist included Justin Herman and Bill Greeves.

Justin’s presentation, Looking Ahead to Government-wide Social Media Solutions, gave a fantastic overview of some of the innovative work at the federal level in regard to social media.

Four ways Justin identified that the Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technology is working to help government agencies is through citizen engagement, which includes the open government dialogue platform, challenge.gov, digital gov university and HowTo.gov. The second way is through innovative technology, which Justin identified as FedRamp, Federal Cloud Computing Initiative, Apps.gov, and Federal Data Center consolidation.

The third way is open data and citizen services, which includes programs like data.gov, USA.gov, USASearch, Mobile Apps Gallery and the National Contact Center and Consumer Information. The final way identified was collaboration across governments, which includes Federal Web and New Media Managers, government contact center and USA Contact, and also international collaboration.

Justin shared a quote from Federal Computer Week, “Just having a lot of followers isn’t enough to show real engagement. If no one is responding to an agency’s tweets, it might not do as well at engaging citizens as it appears.“ Most agencies are collecting basic information such as the number of followers, posts and interactions. Justin believes that managers unfamiliar with social media usually collect volume statisics, which typically do not help agencies understand the impact of social media.

There has been an enormous push for agencies to standardize metrics and collaborate resources, Justin has been instrumental in leading that charge. Justin mentioned that agencies are looking for better performance metrics, more legal guidance, and better inter-office management within agencies.

Bill Greeves presentation was titled: What Happened to the Social Media that You Used to Know? Bill mentioned the at the state and local level, much consideration has been placed on the value proposition for social media. Agencies are asking, how do we manage social media effectively? How do we measure ROI on social media efforts? How do we securely to social media to a business plan?

Bill further identified that government has taken a deep dive into spefic sectors using social media. This is especially true in terms of public safety, community involvement, and planning initiatives at the local level. Further, social media has evolved in terms of policy and guidance. Although much work is still needed to be done, many local governments have become more proactive in providing the dos and don’ts, documenting, and creating a communication strategy for social media.

Social Media Policy should provide overall guidance to the agency, connect an audience to overall mission, and help identify rules and standards. Further, a social media strategy should be flexible and be accepted across an agency.  The next step, Bill believes, is an increased used in location-based services, ideation platforms for crowdsourcing, increased use of virtual worlds, and increased uses of 911 services.

Here are some photos that show what the virtual show looked like, if you want to download the slides to the session, please visit the archive version.

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