Federal Agencies Take Social Media to the Next Level

By: Nicole Pulley

Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms are changing the way information  is created, shared and received. These technology applications are giving traditional forms of communication a run for their money, as new media allow for faster communication, news in real time, and more transparent relationships between all of us.

Pamela Write from the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration  explains how printed documents can now be accessed online.

Pamela Write from the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration
explains how printed documents can now be accessed online.

Federal government agencies are the newest stakeholder to join the social media bandwagon. During this week’s 4th annual Social Media Week, several agencies are sharing their insights on how digital platforms are helping them start conversations, gather feedback, and improve service.

On Tuesday, I attended the 2013 #SocialGov Summit, which featured representatives from eight government agencies discussing how they are using social media in their work.

Scott Prince from the National Institutes of Health explain how he uses social media to gather data about his organization’s audience. NIH’s National Library of Medicine (NLM) has a strong social media presence, with a dozen twitter accounts in addition to the website and Facebook pages. Information gathered from these sites based on sharing, listening and engaging allows the NLM to compare metrics with other health-related entities, observe the effectiveness of NLM affecting change, and view audience feedback on the value of NLM resources.

Justin Herman from the General Services Administration also highlighted the importance of monitoring and collecting information from social media sites to help achieve their goals. Herman says organizations can do this through three activities:

1. Sharing information – Connecting with consumers helps build relationships and communicate important information.

2. Listening to the audience – Listening is a form of understanding. Doing it via social media helps organizations deliver better services and enhance the customer experience.

3. Engaging with listeners – Engagement brings insight into how stakeholders can modify and customize their content to improve their social media presence.

Scott Horvath from the U.S. Geological Survey says customization is an important part of social media when it comes to gathering information and filtering through content. Platforms such as Twitter allow organizations to filter through content based on keywords to find trends across a variety of topics. Using social media in this way, Horvath and his team can identify trends in earthquake-related content and even monitor information in different languages by filtering for keywords such as “terremoto” and “temblor.”

 One thing I learned from the #SocialGov seminar is that social media platforms can be used in different ways. From generating content to sharing information and to monitoring trends, the possibilities with social media are endless. Engaging with others to strengthen relationships is one way social media is brining audience engagement to the next level, and I hope to become a more engaged individual through these platforms.

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