For the past couple years when I conducted training for agencies on the use of social media in government, I cited the GovGab Blog as one of the benchmarks for government blogs. With recent changes, I just can’t do that anymore (sorry to my friends at GSA – still love you all ;-). In fact, please take this post in the spirit it’s intended: tough love – from someone who’s a big fan and bummed by some significant modifications. Maybe I’m just being nostalgic and holding on to the past…but I really liked the casual, conversational feel of the blog in it’s previous form.
One of the things I loved about GovGab was the fact that it had informal biographical sketches for each of the bloggers (see pics to the right). They had faces and fun ways of talking about themselves. They seemed like a friend or a family member or the neighbor next door. As a citizen, I had the sense that the folks working there were “just like me.”
In fact, I blogged about them as a best practice to counter Mark Drapeau when he said (among other things) that government agencies don’t have personalities online.
Now they’re gone.
And not only did they remove the faces and personalities, but they removed the names completely!
If I remember correctly, they had an easy-to-find link to their Comment Policy, which is missing on the new build…and it seems to me that they had a few other helpful links that led the visitor to other helpful resources. All gone.
Finally, they’ve canned their Twitter account, too!
For me, these changes are a bit baffling and I don’t understand why they happened.
Did the staffing structure change? I had always cited GovGab as an excellent example of resource allocation as they spread the work load among several members of their team to minimize overall impact and get increase buy-in for social interaction among a greater number of staff. involved.
Is this just a temporary change while they’re building something better? Take the old down, put up something simple and make a splash with the new build – that might make sense.
Have their goals changed such that they’re making this something akin to a glorified feed? It appears now as if they are potentially posting once and replicating across platforms…so it’s less about the people and more about the product (read: information). In that case, I’d say there has been a de-emphasis on conversation and a focus on content…which is also a move in a different (wrong?) direction.
So I know I’m calling out my friends publicly…but I hope that a conversation can ensue so that we can all learn from the evolution of one of the first (and what I used to believe was “best”) Federal social media presences.