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Facebook Town Halls and Google Hangouts With the President: Social Media in 2012

Today, technology is a critical component to transform and modernize government to truly create a 21st century government. For our year-end report, the GovLoop team set out to explore what technology trends shaped 2012 to help agencies meet organizational goals. The report also includes best practices, case studies, and identifies which trends will shape government technology in 2013. This post will highlight one of those core trends, social media.

Story Highlights

  • GovLoop Releases New Report on government technology in 2012
  • Report includes interviews with government thought leaders, insights from 250 GovLoop members, case studies and best practices
  • This story reviews social media as a core trend for government in 2012

The report below includes a survey from 250 members of the GovLoop community, and interviews with Bernie Mauzer, Chief Information Officer, Department of the Interior, Jim Ropelewski, Chief Procurement Officer, Department of Education, Linda Cureton, Chief Information Officer, NASA and Malcolm Jackson, Chief Information Officer, Environmental Protection Agency. Be sure to check out the entire report below and related resources on the guide landing page.

Facebook Town Halls and Google Hangouts With the President: Social Media in 2012

Now more than ever, government officials are leveraging social media to bring themselves closer to the people they serve. Government agencies are increasingly leveraging social media to directly communicate with citizens, boost their public image, and get feedback from the community.

View the Guide Above Or Click Download Now.

Two examples stuck out in particular this year: Chicago’s Mayor, Emmanuel Rahm, hosted his third Facebook Town Hall and President Obama hosted the first ever Presidential Google Hangout.
Facebook Town Hall

On June 30, 2011, Mayor Emmanuel became the first mayor of a large city to host a live online forum to answer his citizens’ questions and hear their concerns. It became the first of now three Facebook Town Halls hosted by the Mayor.

The first town hall touched on issues of the budget and general concerns about the city. His next Facebook Town Hall had a more specific focus on education. The Mayor asked citizens to submit questions online at www.AskChicago.org before the meeting so he could prepare to address them. His latest town hall, which was held on May 1, 2012, was to discuss Rahm’s first year in office. The meeting was an effort to gain insight from the people he serves on how to keep the city moving forward. These virtual town meetings provide a way for the Mayor to show his community that he prioritizes their needs.

President Obama’s Google Hangout
President Obama has made “open government” a priority. This January, the White House hosted the first Presidential Google+ Hangout. The President took in questions from the White House’s YouTube channel and used Google Hangout to speak live with citizens.

Even though the questions were screened ahead of time, the off-the-cuff nature of a Hangout was a risky move for the President. Fortunately, the event went smoothly and without any inappropriate questions, and the President came out of the Hangout with a boosted image as an approachable public servant.

Takeaway Lessons
Public outreach through social media can boost your agency’s image and improve your agency’s function by tapping into the needs of the public. Social media offers a variety of ways to communicate directly with citizens, and it is in your agency’s advantage to utilize these tools.

How does your agency stack up? Compare your social media presence to other agencies with our Government Social Media Leaderboard.

The GovLoop Guide: Government Technology Year in Review

Agile Government Cloud Technology Turning Data into Power Expansion of Mobility Social Government

This page is brought to you by the GovLoop Technology Solutions Council. The mission of this council is to provide you with information and resources to help improve government. Visit the GovLoop Technology Solutions Council to learn more.

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Hannah Ornell

Hey Justin, thank you for your feedback. These are two case studies of social media in government that I found particularly interesting. Given your expertise in this field, I would be interested to hear your input on what other examples you’d point to as top social media trends in 2012.

Andrew Krzmarzick

Hermanator: You’ve got a perfect perch to present your fav Fed examples from ’12. I’d be curious to hear them in a separate post.

David B. Grinberg

Hannah, great post — you hit the nail on the head here, as usual. The unfortunate reality, however, is that many small and mid-sized government agencies are vastly under utilizing social media for any number of reasons — such as the general bureaucratic, hierarchal process hindering progess, or endless knit-picking by agency attorneys in vetting and implementing social media proposals. The irony is that in such tight budget times, social media is a free tool to reach effectively reach the masses and engage citizens as well as stakeholders — arguably even more effective than paid media. Yet too many agencies have been too timid thus far. Agencies who are not maximizing social media platforms need to wake up and get with the program. Some agencies haven’t even gotten their feet off the ground, much less fly. Hopefully, more decisionmakers will come to this sensible, practical and contemporary realization. The sooner, the better for both government agencies nd the publics they serve.