Recently, I attended at session during the NAGC conference on free Web 2.0 tools that help government agencies improve both internal and external communications. The session was lead by Andrew Kzmarzick of GovLoop and Meagan Dorsch of NCSL. Setting the tone for what would be interactive and involved session, they began by asking the audience how many of us used Facebook and Twitter for work – more than half of the room raised their hands.
Here are a few of my takeaways from their session:
They showed some stats on social media use and government, and while I couldn’t get them all, I did manage to capture a couple of pretty interesting ones. For example, according to a recent PEW statistic, roughly 90% of Federal agencies started using social media in the last 2 years. And, most government agencies that are using social media reported using them for marketing and promotions, to communicate with citizens and for internal collaboration.
Know Your Audience
If you’re using social media today, or are planning to use it in the future, think about who’s on the site that you want to use and craft your messaging to them. Andrew and Meagan asked us if we knew who used social media more frequently, men or women. My initial thought was women. And guess what? I was right!
Pinterest: the latest trend in social media.
With Pinterest, you can “pin” photos to a virtual photo board and allow your friends to “repin” that image, essentially saying that they like it too. When asked how many in the room use Pinterest personally, only a few hands were raised. And when asked how many use it professionally, no one raised their hand…so we brainstormed some ways that government organizations could use this tool.
Parks departments could post pictures of parks and neighborhood trails. Tourism bureaus could use it to promote their city/county with shots of unique or notable sites. Weather services could use this to upload some of those incredible shots taken by residents during a storm or a sunset.
- 12 million users
- 60% of users are female
- 55% of users are between 25-44
- Keep in mind that pictures need to be your own!
Crowdsourcing: the newest Web 2.0 term.
This was only briefly touched on during the session but I wanted to briefly elaborate on how government agencies are using crowdsourcing platforms to create stronger citizen engagement. The concept: a citizen submits an idea; other citizens vote on that idea, share it to their social media outlets; the idea grows in popularity and “bubbles” to the top, telling the organization how important that idea is to the community at large. Organizations are also using these tools for project-based ideation and feedback. Take the City of Austin for example, who create a project using Granicus’ Citizen Participation tool to solicit ideas for how to improve a neighborhood that’s undergoing redevelopment.
The session also touched on some of the more traditional social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter, and even gave us a live demo of how to use google+ groups – thanks to guys at govLoop for being such troopers and letting us surprise them on video!
We also saw tools like Timetoast, an application that allows you to create virtual timelines online. This could be really cool for a redevelopment project that your organization is working on – upload images of the project’s progress and keep your citizens informed. Trello, which I recently discovered and now swear by, allows you to easily manage projects and interact with colleagues in real-time.
All in all, a very informative and fun session!