There are around two dozen state Departments of Transportation on Facebook.
Facebook’s newsfeed-style user homepage is apparently still somewhat contentious among the site’s users (I wasn’t around before the switch), but it’s the standard presentation template for most online communities, and it’s ideally suited to the kind of public outreach required of most DOTs. An agency Facebook page permits the posting of news, tweets, press releases, photos and videos, and also permits interaction with the public. This is the Facebook page of the Missouri Department of Transportation. Here’s Michigan. Illinois. Texas.
I want to create a Facebook page for KDOT, if only because that’s where the audience is, but there are some obstacles to be overcome. Facebook, MySpace and other general social networks are firewalled at KDOT, and I doubt that we’ll be able to lift that ban soon. Agency management considers Facebook a time-killer, and of course one can make a strong case that it is a time-killer.
There’s a counter-argument to be made, but at the moment I don’t feel like making it. KDOT has been extremely supportive of our social media efforts, and belaboring the Secretary and the State Transportation Engineer to allow everyone in the agency to burn the workday noodling around on Facebook seems a poor way to repay the support we’ve received.
There are ways to utilize Facebook that don’t challenge the ban. We successfully petitioned for the installation in the Public Affairs office of a single dedicated computer outside the agency firewall which permits us to log on to social networks. I’s the only machine in the building that can get to Facebook, and it’s a bit of a pain to get on and off, but it’s sufficient for our purposes.
Once the page is up, I estimate it will require about 30 minutes a day to manage–which leaves the business of actually launching the page. Crafting a useful Facebook page will require input from multiple people around the agency, not least the Secretary, State Transportation Engineer and Chief Counsel. They’re busy. My boss is busy. I’m busy. There’s no realistic chance we’ll get to it this month.
But I’m sure we’ll get to it eventually, maybe before the end of summer (knock on head). For all the criticism leveled at Facebook as an unproductive time-vortex in the workplace, it remains the largest social network in the world. Willie Sutton robbed banks because that’s where the money is. Government agencies must consider Facebook because that’s where the people are.
Rachel Happe (The Social Organization), is working with Jim Storer on a new project: The Community Roundtable. The Roundtable is “a neutral, trusted, easy-to-access and 24/7 resource for community practitioners in order to help them with their day-to-day needs.” They’re interested in adding government’s role in the new mediaverse to the Roundtable discussion. Swing by and give ’em a look-see.
It’s 1,000 degrees here. The humidity is approximately 526 percent. This helps.