Currently, the federal government operates over 1,000 Twitter feeds. Federal civilian agencies maintain over 360 Twitter feeds, while the Department of Defense hosts more than 650. In addition to its official English feed, the State Department produces Twitter feeds in Turkish, Farsi, Arabic, Spanish, and French. It is fair to say that the federal government is embracing Twitter as a tool for citizen engagement.
However, like many technological tools, Twitter does not come with an instruction manual. To help both government executives who must decide whether Twitter is a useful tool for their organizations and frontline managers who will create and administer the Twitter account, Ines Mergel has written a guide or federal managers and front-line executives that details the benefits—and risks—of hosting a Twitter feed, as well as the specifics on how to maintain a Twitter feed to achieve optimum results.
Government organizations that have not yet established a Twitter account can use this guide to learn the steps that they need to take to get up and running. For more advanced users, this guide offers advice on how to reap greater benefits from Twitter—including how to use it for analytics and how to take the next step and use the data to increase the scope of an organization’s Twitter network.
In addition to the information about Twitter itself, the guide presents material about the expanding ecosystem that is growing up around Twitter. Applications like Klout, TweetDeck, HootSuite, and Instagram add new kinds of functionality and make Twitter feeds more valuable both to government and to citizens who subscribe to their feeds.
Finally, the guide includes numerous examples of how federal agencies are effectively using Twitter. Both newcomers and old hands will learn how organizations across government are employing this important tool to help them accomplish their mission in new and innovative ways. We hope that this guide will be useful in increasing understanding about the use of an important social media tool, Twitter, which is now being deployed across the federal government.