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Let’s Give Them Something To Talk About – Role of Social Media Going Forward? #connectedgov

Twitter, facebook, instagram, googleplus — all these tools and more have been around for a few years. But many government agencies are still slow to see their value. We’re not saying there aren’t real pockets of innovation. But on the whole government is slow. Why is that?

The Partnership for Public Service and Booz Allen Hamilton have teamed up to answer that question and more with their new report #ConnectedGov: Engaging Stakeholders in a Digital Age. Grant McLaughlin is a Vice President at Booz Allen Hamilton.

He told Chris Dorobek on the DorobekINSIDER program that the idea that social media is a fad or not essential is simply wrong.
“The suggestion that this social media wave will go away is flat out wrong. I believe that social media and more so the inter-connectedness within groups of people will remain. The tools we use may change but the inter-connectedness will remain,” said McLaughlin.

Not Just a Communication Tool

“One of the things that comes down in the report is that this is not just a communication tool and it’s not just technology. But its bundling up communications, activities, technology, analytics and policies. Adding them up to create a new opportunity for true constituent engagement,” said McLaughlin.

Social Media Out of the Tech Shop

“As you move it out of the communication show or the CIO world, and you move social media inot the space of a program manager who can harness the power of engaging those constituents, that’s where the real power lies. The federal government is on the cusp of doing that on a broader scale,” said McLaughlin

In on the Conversation?

“The federal government is being talked about whether it’s about the policies, its organization, or just the simple needs the need to be met. The conversation is already on going. Now it is the government or an agency or a program manager that can also be engaged in that conversation,” said McLaughlin.

Not just for citizen engagement

“Many organizations are geographically diverse even from an employee engagement standpoint. If they can connect to people they don’t see everyday is a huge opportunity for success. The Department of Energy has launched Powerpedia a wiki like platform for employees to engage and share ideas with one another,” said McLaughlin.

Wide-spread Adoption

“You still have a sense of a noisy minority who may engage on a topic. But there are certain things that may create a firestorm of activity,” said McLaughlin, “but there are some agencies that still block social media. There’s a conversation that needs to go on inside agencies where this isn’t just a communications toll or a technology platform. It is also a policy discussion.”

What’s Next?

  1. Really proliferate across a number of tools. Move from talking about the tool itself to the content and engagement. The ability to make a prolonged connection.
  2. Use of analytics from social media to answer the question how do we use this to do our jobs better? To provide for a more informed public?

Social Media Myths.

*All graphs and images are from the Partnership for Public Service and Booz Allen Hamilton.

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4 Comments

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Profile Photo Katie Bromley

Good post. Agree that agencies need to be where their audiences are, where the conversations are happening whether they are there or not. Appreciate addressing the myths head-on.

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Profile Photo Jeffrey Levy

Nice post, and I loved the myths and strategies in the report. We keep exploring new ways to invite people to the conversation. My long-term goal of finding new ways to get actual policy written is still a bit stymied, though. Mostly by the Administrative Procedures Act.

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Profile Photo Terrence Hill

This is a great report with great case studies of organizations effectively using social networks. Unfortunately, there are agencies like mine that have not realized the value of social networks to stimulate collaboration among employees. There is a real fear among employees about using social networks or even voicing their opinions, especially since the agency still blocks social networks. The message is that they are a waste of time and dangerous. This fosters myths like those cited in the report and stymies communication, collaboration, and creativity.

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Profile Photo Allen Sheaprd

Social Media a fad?

My biggest hurdle is “the Government can not be wrong” hence all communication must be approved and run through a few people. This takes time.

Also as government employee I’m not allowed to talk, discuss nor comment on city business.

How restrictive? I once tried to open a face book page just for city employees for a yearly blood drive. That was a mistake I will *never* make again.

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