Social media provides great opportunities for government agencies to connect with citizens. Through social media, providing access to information and reaching citizens can be done easier than ever before.
Most studies show staggering upward trends of adoption rates and increased use of social networks. Since many of these platforms are still relatively new, it will be interesting to see at what point the data begins to plateau, and rates begin to start moving downward year-over-year. In August of last year, Pew performed a study in which they found that 65% of adult internet users said they used a social networking site. That’s more than double the percentage that reported social networking site usage in 2008 (29%). Another interesting statistic is the rate at which users have signed up for social networking sites; in February of 2005, just 8% of internet users – or 5% of all adults – said they used them.
Although these technologies are incredible assets to organizations, they also come with some words of caution. Even though social media has grown exponentially over the last few years, access is not there for all. Government has attempted to institute legislation such as the Section 508 legislation to help curb these effects and not allow advances in technology to place the disabled at a disadvantage.
Social media is falling fast from the “new kid on the block” phase. It’s actually amazing to think how fast social media has grown over the past few years. With the explosion of Facebook, Twitter, and a variety of niche social media sites, social seems to be everywhere. An agency to not be on Facebook is now the exception, rather than the rule. Agencies are now moving to a stage in which they are developing more robust metrics and developing a deeper understanding their social media programs.
Developing the right metrics still seems to be one of the big challenges facing social media. Government at all levels is still challenged as to how to best extract knowledge from all the interactions with citizens. A trend that will be fascinating to watch is how agencies take interactions they have with citizens and drive innovation in government. Although this is happening – it is an early stage and processes are still not defined by government.
Even though social seems to be everywhere, agencies do a lot more in their communications strategy. In my opinion, agencies are starting to do a really good job of understanding that social is just one component of an integrated communications strategy. As agencies now have started to figure out social media, communications plans have become more robust and integrated. People are able to find information through a variety of channels, integrated and timely.
How are you measuring social media within your agency? Do you have examples of how social media has driven innovation within your agency?
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