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Great Social Media Lessons from the DoD All Service Social Media Conference (DoDASSMC)

Today I had the chance to go to the Department of Defense All Service Social Media Conference (DODASSMC) at Georgetown University’s Clarendon Campus. If you are a community manager or interested in connecting with people running social media programs, you should for sure check out the group. Today there were four speakers, everyone did a great job and covered a lot of different areas of social media.

Here are the speakers from todays event:

  • Gadi Ben Yahuda of the IBM Center for the Business of Government
  • Lovisa Williams from the State Department
  • Brandon Friedman & Alex Horton of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Stephanie Schierholz from NASA

Gadi Ben Yahuda gave a really interesting presentation this afternoon. There were a couple of themes that really stood out. One of the most critical themes that Gadi mentioned was that social media needs to be tied to mission statements and organizational goals. Because of this, social media programs need to encompass the entire organization. This is certainly a challenge, but is necessary to really capitalize on social media programs. A community manager does not have all the answers and does not know what is occurring in every department across incredibly complex government agencies. It’s important that everyone is on board with social media, to provide the most accurate and timely information for stakeholders.

Towards the end of his presentation, Gadi touched on the idea as government as a platform. Essentially, Gadi was explaining how in order to tackle all the complex issues government faces, government agencies need to realize that they do not hold all the answers. The challenge becomes that once an agency opens the gates, how do they effectively manage all the data and actually turn the data into meaningful action?

The second speaker was Lovisa Williams. The one element that really stood out for me came early on in Lovisa’s presentation. Lovisa put up a picture of a people in a market and asked us to say what was happening. Participants gave many different answers, engaging, communicating, trading, buying, etc. Lovisa’s point was that this kind of interaction is what the State Department is trying to build in a digital space. This makes a lot of sense to me. If we can understand how people interact with government offline, agencies should be able to model their communications strategy digitally and improve services provided.

Lovisa also identified numerous challenges for government. It was interesting to hear some of the barriers and challenges she had to overcome at the State Department. Lovisa gave the following list of some challenges she has faced at the State Department:

  • Impersonation of US Government Accounts
  • Intelligence
  • Trolls
  • Crisis Communication
  • Remote Management
  • Legal/Policy Issues

Follwoing Lovisa was Alex Horton and Brandon Friedman from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Alex and Bradon provided numerous insights about how social media works at the VA. Some of the goals of the program are to enhance information to the right people at the right time, get information out, disseminate information, obtain feedback and act, sustain and build an audience.

The VA speakers spent the majority of their time speaking about their blog, VAntage Point. One of the really interesting parts of this blog was the Guest Post feature. This is one way the VA is actively solicitating veterans to engage with the VA online.

NASA’s Stephanie Schierholz was the last speaker of the day. The highlight for me about Stephanie’s presentation was learning about the history and success of NASA Tweetups. This was a good example of an agency identify opprotunities and building on an already existing network. The cost of a NASA Tweetup is quite low, but provides a lot of great press and opprotunities for outreach.

Stephanie also commented on metrics and social media. She gave a really interesting insight. Stephanie mentioned that while researching what kind of metrics to report, she looked at traditional methods in the communications department and replicated with social media. Her comments reminded me that social media seems to get critized a lot tougher in terms of ROI and metrics. Since social media is still fairly new and a shift in culture, I think that is why social media is looked at so critically.

NASA has a lot of great programs and partnerships. NASA also conveniently lists all their social media sites in one location, take a look and see all the great resources.

What are some of the challenges you have had implemeting a social media campaign?

How are you linking your campaign to your mission?

Last thing, I am a graduate of Syracuse University, and our rival is Georgetown. The picture below made me feel really uncomfortable. I really enjoyed the presentations and the speakers – so they all made up for the fact I had to wear this ugly Georgetown name tag.

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