Top 10 Blog Posts on Reach the Public

I know 2013 started just over a week ago, but it already feels like it’s been weeks since I celebrated the holidays and New Year’s with my family and friends. I think part of this is jumping back into the work day after some time off, but part of it is probably due to the fact that 2012 “year-end” reviews started weeks ago. (Google posted their Zeitgeist 2012 video a month ago! If you haven’t watched it, take a look and note how many cool events were driven by government organizations like yours.)

So I may be a little late to the game in adding my 2012 “top viewed blog entries” list, but I console myself that it’s only been a week or so. And with the belief that this list contains good reading that’s timeless. For those who may have missed these along the way, here are the top ten most-viewed blog entries on Reach the Public in 2012 and why I think they’re worth revisiting:

number 1

In this post, Lauren Modeen, Engagement Strategist extraordinaire, answers a question she received in a Reddit chat: how can you use rewards to motivate your online community?

She highlights four different ways that rewards can spur conversation and keep a community engaged, from simply featuring a member’s activity (whether that’s a discussion, question, or profile) to sending thank you notes or swag.

Why do I think this post is worth revisiting now? As we moved through 2012, it was impossible to ignore the impact of social media in government. Not just because it was a “new” way of amplifying the reach of government communications but also because of the emphasis on social. At the end of the day, people want to be part of a community; they want to interact with others who are interested in things they’re interested in. And government organizations began to understand that creating, developing and managing communities could be one way to truly drive mission value in a way that had never been done before.

Using Rewards to Motivate Your Online Community

number 2

This post was written quickly as I sat in a hotel room near GovDelivery UK’s office, up late with jet lag; so please allow me a moment to be a bit proud that it’s in this top ten list.

I logged onto my email to catch up on news in the communications world, and I saw the article on ReadWriteWeb detailing Mark Cuban’s opinion on Facebook. It was a fascinating read to me, mainly because of the very provocative but highly understandable situation Cuban faced with his basketball team (the Dallas Mavericks.) His organization had worked hard to gain Facebook fans, and they’d worked hard to engage that audience over a long period of time. So to come face-to-face with the knowledge that those connections aren’t actually available when you want them — or worse, that you have to pay Facebook to reach them — was jarring. For a government agency, that can mean a matter of life or death when you consider a situation like Hurricane Sandy.

Why is this post worth revisiting? It’s a good reminder that direct connections matter, especially in urgent situations. But it’s also good to remember that an integrated communications approach is still the key to ensuring that your government organization’s message is distributed as broadly as possible.

Abandoning Facebook

number 3

You’ll notice as you go through the rest of this list how much of these posts cover social media in government. Do you think it’s odd that the second most-viewed post was about abandoning Facebook but other posts in the top ten are about how to leverage or use social media? I think this is indicative of our society’s love/hate relationship with social media.

In this post, we summarize one of the most popular webinars I’ve ever hosted in my professional career (and I’ve hosted a lot of webinars). Our main speaker, Kristy Fifelski, also known as “GovGirl,” detailed her top 8 ways for government to engage citizens with social media – and boy, did we learn how hot a topic that was.

With nearly 1000 registrants, we had to expand our webinar contract (which had been limited to 250 “seats” to 1000 just in case everyone showed up.) And we had to expand our teleconference capability to ensure that everyone who attended could hear us. The experience gave myself and my IT team a mini heart attack – but it was all for a good cause, because this webinar was really amazing.

With concrete examples, in-the-field knowledge and expertise, and a fun presentation, Kristy/GovGirl gave our audience of government communicators key tips and tricks that could be implemented immediately to start using social media in more engaging ways. This is one post definitely worth revisiting.

8 Ways for Government to Engage Citizens with Social Media

number 4

Pinterest, another social networking site, launched in beta form in 2010 but didn’t start picking up more traction until mid-2011. By early 2012, it had become, as our post notes, “the hottest thing in social media.” By the end of 2012, the hotness had worn off a bit; but Pinterest remains a solid social networking site, with the most year-over-year growth for social desktop, web and app usage, according to Nielsen’s 2012 Social Media Report.

So take a look at this post on how government organizations can leverage Pinterest. As a site that stresses the social aspect of images, Pinterest can be a powerful storytelling social platform that extends beyond the capabilities of a social network like Twitter. This post reminds you of some ways to leverage this storytelling foundation to generate more interest and provide more value for your stakeholders.

Why Should Government be Interested in Pinterest?

number 5

That’s right, folks. The Internet and technology is no longer the sole purview of the young. In this post, we take on the idea that you can’t reach older demographics with digital means. That’s bollocks, as the British would say.

“Studies show that senior citizens are fast adopting email as one of their primary methods of digital interaction and communication. According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project, 87% of senior citizens use email and search engines, while the Nielsen Company found that checking email was the primary online activity for 88.6% of seniors.”

If that’s not a prime reason to review your communications strategy and ensure that you’re using your digital communications to reach a broad spectrum of stakeholders, take a look at this post to find out which age group uses digital technology to do what (i.e. to get email, to use a search engine, to look for health information, etc.) The statistics will surprise you!

Tech-Savvy Senior Citizens on the Rise

number 6

The title says it all. Here’s a guide to help you with the best practices we’ve found in utilizing digital communications to reach your stakeholders and the public.

The post talks about why the guide is important and some of the strategies used by well-known public sector organizations. In fact, the guide’s been accessed more than 8,500 times since it was released last April.

The guide itself is a pretty deep dive into what works for digital communications, culled from over a decade of work with government organizations worldwide. If you don’t have the time to sit down to read it all, why not download it and try to tackle one tip or trick a week?

Digital Communication Best Practices Guide Now Available

number 7

Our friend and professional colleague, Steve Ressler, Founder of GovLoop, allowed us to share his thoughts on internal communications.

In the world of Gov 2.0 and Web 2.0, he tackles the next version of internal communications, drawing on current technologies used to communicate with the public to help facilitate internal communications. For instance, Human Resources could use text messages/SMS to remind employees of form deadlines.

As one of the top ten most popular posts of 2012, I think this post speaks to the need not only to reach the public to drive mission value but to reach our own internal audiences to help ensure that everyone is on the same page and working towards the same big goals.

Internal Communications 2.0

number 8

I have to be honest: this was one of my favorite posts from 2012. Why? Because it brought something virtual and often “abstract” or conceptual into something physical that I understood: a shining example of how great communications can be.

In this post, our resident community management expert, Lauren, addresses the question, “How do I design an online community? What’s it supposed to look like?” And her answer is, in my opinion, pretty awesome.

If your government organization has an online community or is even thinking about starting one, take a look at this post. It’s a critical piece to consider when developing a community. Oftentimes, when we think about communities, we consider finding people who are going to be the community managers and hype people; how to keep an online community going; or how to generate discussion – all of which is important. But a clean, easy, and structured online community helps with all of that, and Lauren gives you an easy-to-read road map here.

How to Design an Online Community

number 9

Just a few days ago, Joseph Marks posted a short note about content on government websites, noting that most “dot-govs fail on content, not technology.”

That makes this post increasingly relevant. As a communications person myself, the power of content is becoming more and more apparent. It’s what drives connections between an organization and its audience.

In this post, our Digital Marketing Manager/Guru, Mike Bernard, tackles the idea of content marketing for government and provides ten tips that your organization can start using immediately to leverage the power of content to help meet your agency’s goals and drive mission value. From repurposing content to curation to making content easily shareable, these tactics can help you see an uptick in your outreach programs.

Content Marketing – Government Style

number 10

If you’re remotely interested in government technology, you probably already know the acronym “APIs”. It was hard to miss Federal Chief Information Officer Steven VanRoekel’s tweet about it.

That’s why I think this post was one of the most-viewed from 2012. In 2013, I’d be surprised if APIs weren’t a continuing hot topic. The integrations available with this technology make it a critical component of the Federal Digital Government Strategy, but even more than that, it allows connections in ways that make government more efficient. What’s not to love?

In this post, Richard Fong, a (master) Technical Implementation Consultant, discusses his work in helping the US National Weather Service (NWS) implement APIs to help get the word out with tsunami warnings. Their API integration with their digital communications tool allows NWS to send out tsunami warning communications more quickly than ever before, helping to save lives in situations where seconds really matter.

It’s a good post to end the list, too, because it’s a great reminder of the crucially important work that government organizations do and how critical communications are in helping organizations meet their mission in serving the public.

National Weather Service Using APIs for Tsunami Alerts

So that’s our top ten list of most-viewed blog entries on Reach the Public. Was there one that you found especially insightful that I’ve missed here? Did you find these posts useful? Let me know in the comments!

Original post on Reach the Public.

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