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More Than Numbers, Social Media Is About Engagement – Plus Your Weekend Reads

In today’s government, social media use is less about broadcasting messages and more about engaging citizens in a new way. What does that mean? Well, it means that instead of just sending out a Tweet from your agency Twitter feed, agencies are actively searching for ways to make that broadcast into a conversation.

It sounds complicated, and it is. But there are people in government that are making it work. On Wednesday, Chris Dorobek moderated a panel of experts at AFCEA Bethesda’s Social Media breakfast. Dorobek started the discussion asking the panelists to define Government 2.0.

Scott Horvath, Head of Social Media, Office of Communications and Publishing, U.S. Geological Survey, Department of Interior

At USGS we have been doing social media for quite some time. I think things are finally starting to sink in. These aren’t just tools to publish. These aren’t just tools to communicate. We really need to take some deep insights into what we are doing and how that plays into the nature of our business. From where I sit, the next phase in this evolution is analytics. People have been doing social analytics in corporate industry. But in government it is still moving upwards. We need to really look into what we are doing with our social media.

Amanda Nguyen, Director of Web Communications, Office of Communications, Department of Agriculture.

The biggest shift I have seen in social media is that it no longer lives in one office. Before it was always, find that one social media person and give them that job. But in order to use social media in any web platform effectively it really needs to live in all of our programs.

I always talk to scientists, researchers and program staff and I always encourage them to get online and see what other people are talking about, because then we can better understand how to serve our customers. We may be working on issues that aren’t that important to our customers. We want to make sure we are aligning our priorities properly. That goes for the platforms as well.

A few years ago we were big on quantity. Give me every blog post you can. Everyone needs to tweet and be on these platforms. Since then we have dialed things back a bit and used the analytics to see where we are actually making an impact and which tools are working best, then we are focusing on our quality and adding value to our communities, rather than just shouting at them. For example, we have had a lot of success with Google Plus hangouts where people can actually have conversations with our staff and learn about our programs.

There will always be an element of broadcast, but for us we are looking at how we can best learn from and hear from our users and followers.

Ryan Koch, Deputy Director, Office of Innovative Engagement, Department of State

In my office we are always trying to look at the new tools that are out there. What is coming down the pipe that we can use and more importantly can these tools be deployed worldwide? Facebook for example, can be used pretty much worldwide, expect for in China. A Google Plus hangout doesn’t work so well in Africa where they don’t have the bandwidth. So we have to look at other tools where we could maximize our message while using the framework that is there.

We have built a big following at the State Department, our main feed has 700,000 followers, so what do you deal with these people? Can they help crowdsource solutions?

Tammi Marcoullie, Program Manager, Challenge.gov, Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies, General Services Administration

For us, Gov 2.0 means the Digital Government Strategy, it means the tools and resources we can use federal-wide to enable a mobile government. Everything from usability standards, to responsive design on websites, anytime, anywhere, any device.

For challenge.gov we are finding ways for citizens to engage with us in ways that they ordinarly wouldn’t. We take these loose relationships of having communicated with them on social media and we are working on pulling them in when we need action.

Weekend reads

We know weekend time is precious, so we try to pull some stories throughout the week that are worth your time… and may just plant a seed for new ideas…

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