Happy Birthday! GovSM.com turns 1

Wow, it’s been exactly one year since Ben Smith at Politico was kind enough to write a blog post about my website on his blog at Poltico. Clearly this has been a year full of social media firsts in politics, and I still disagree with Ben’s statement that “it’s not clear that many of these members or their staffs update their online identities all that often.” Now, close to 90% of the 535 members of Congress use some form of social media, and most of that number update their profiles (debating “often” is the subject for another post).

When I started out last spring learning to write and format the tables that would be at the heart of my website, I could only dream for the positive feedback I have received in the past year. When the site launched, all it had was a House page and Senate page, and no 3rd party influence scores. Now I have pages for Federal agencies, Governors, 2012 Presidential campaigns and four separate influence scores.

Just yesterday President Obama and the White House social media team announced that they will be using foursquare. How far we have come. Every GOP candidate currently uses Facebook and Twitter, most use YouTube and Flickr – the power and usefulness of these tools cannot be denied anymore.

Govsm.com and this blog have allowed me to meet some very cool people doing awesome things, both in politics and in social media, and occasionally, I get to talk to some of the very cool people working in this niche intersection. Through this site I’ve met social media company staff, think tanks, gov employees, elected official staff – I’ve even had the great privelege to interview a Congressman or two.

Networking one connection to the next I was offered the amazing opportunity to write a weekly blog post for the Washington Post for close to two months. While the particular venue I was writing for had to close, my website’s reach had grown exponentially, something I’ll never be able to properly thank my editors at the Post for. (Thanks Natalie!)

My Washington Post blog was seen by a producer at Sirius/XM radio, so the next thing I know I am being interviewed live on air in front of thousands of listeners – something I never, ever could have imagined when I started this site last year. And it’s one thing to write an article that will be reviewed and edited before posting, it’s quite another to answer questions live. Thankfully I did not sound like a complete idiot, and they were kind enough to have me back a second time.

Right now I’m at a crossroads. I work on the site a few hours a day if I can, but I am quickly reaching the upper limits of what I can to technically to improve the site. Of course there will never be enough time to enter all the data myself – one of the reasons I made the site a wiki in the first place.

Right now I am looking for a way to fund improvements to my site, especially a database engineer. If you enjoy the content of this site and can help contribute, either with knowhow or funds, please contact me.

Thanks for reading, for your support, for your criticisms, and your feedback. I’m looking forward to an awesome campaign year.


Josh Shpayher

p.s. I’m also going to attempt the speaking circuit soon – results TBD.

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