Government 2.0 Success Stories from the Front Lines

The Social Media Club of DC had a meeting dedicated to Government 2.0 Wednesday night. Unfortunately I was unable to attend, but my Strategic Communications Group colleague Bill Murray was there. Bill wrote up his thoughts, and I’m happy to post them here.

Bill is very experienced in the b2g field, having formerly worked as a reporter for Federal Computer Week, Government Computer News and Washington Technology. His Twitter stream is wamurray, and his report is below.

I attended last night’s Social Media Club DC meeting on Gov 2.0 at Ogilvy 360 on 19th Street. John Bell, head of Ogilvy’s 360 social media practice, served as the host, and Larissa Fair of Livingston Communications was the Social Media Club officer who introduced John. Mark Drapeau (cheeky_geeky on Twitter) was there, and I had a chance to speak with him for a few minutes about how a biological scientist came to write about social media for Mashable.com.

There were four speakers — Miguel Gomez of HHS’ Aids.com, Joanne McGovern of GSA’s USA.gov, contractor Tracy Johnson from SBA’s Business.com and Mike Panetta of Grassroots Enterprises, who is DC’s shadow representative to Congress. Some of the best practices they described are very similar to the work we do for our clients.

Joanne, for example, wanted to put a human face on government through blogging with her team at USA.gov. To overcome any fear of what the public might say to them, they have two rules in place — comments need to be civil in tone and directly related to the topic of the blog post.

Miguel spoke about the culture clash that can happen when implementing social media inside government. He talked about the immense bureaucratic obstacles at Health & Human Services Department to his blogging and podcasting at AIDS.gov. Incredibly it took six months to get a meeting with decision makers, and an addition four months to receive approval. And the day before he was to go live, the plug nearly got pulled because he’s “not a public speaker.”

He talked about taking the role of a patient educator with his fellow public health professionals to explain how social media can help them fight AIDS. He also spoke about how important repurposing content (for example blog postings that can be made into podcasts), which can be very effective.

Tracy serves as marketing manager for SBA’s Business.gov, and showed how the site was able to increase its traffic 69 percent in six months, primarily through offering a search widget to local chambers of commerce on Business.gov material, using Google AdWords and guest blogging on two sites.

Mike spoke about how he’s using Facebook and Twitter in his public outreach to try to gain full voting rights for District of Columbia residents. Despite the challenges some described, I came away very encouraged that 2.0 technologies ARE being implemented by government agencies to improve their communication with the public.

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Nicole Auer McGee

That IS encouraging, since many leaders seem hesitant to adopt first. Speaking from a local government perspective, it’s great to have other local, state, and federal examples to use when making the business case for local adoption.