This article was originally posted on the USAGov blog. Claire Loxsom is a Program Analyst on USAGov’s Content and Outreach team. All government agencies have a common goal: to serve the public. As the front door to government information and services, we help agencies achieve this goal. We strive to make it easier for the public to find what they need by aggregating and disseminating information about government programs and services.
Making government more efficient, more open.
The best way to learn a new technical skill is to just play around with the technology. Learning through playing with technology goes for building websites, mobile apps, and now, chatbots. As chatbots have become more popular, some online sites will let you create a chatbot with little or no programming. Now, realize that the easier it is to create the chatbot, the less sophisticated the chatbot will be. However, you may not need a sophisticated chatbot that can handle almost any situation.
This post was originally published on the HIV.gov blog. Editor’s Note: At HIV.gov, our team calls include a weekly update on digital trends. These updates allow us to stay current and inform our work. We recently asked HIV.gov’s former digital strategist to suggest ways our HIV partners can stay up to date with social media trends. Social media moves fast. It can feel like there is a new tool or feature to learn every day.
At HIV.gov, we’re often asked if videos are effective tools for communicating HIV prevention and treatment information. Our experience, the work of our partners, and current research continue to support the use of video for informing and empowering individuals. Using video as part of a comprehensive communication strategy can increase the engagement and effectiveness of the health messages. Recent data report: Video is an extremely popular format for content delivery 45% of people watch more than an hour of Facebook or YouTube videos a week.
Merriam-Webster officially defines a meme as “an idea, behavior, style, or usage that spreads from person to person within a culture.” But these days, most of us think of memes as those viral posts online that convey a message using a photo with text. They range from funny to serious to offensive, and everything in between. Sometimes they include a call to action, and other times they focus on creating an emotion.
Many know that digital tools have become indispensable for connecting with many audiences—but we also know that what’s available in the digital realm is always changing. So how do you know what tools are best for your purpose? And how do you plan for your organization’s digital future when the pace of change is so rapid? Recently, we asked colleagues what advice they would give for developing a digital media strategy.
Helping patients manage chronic pain has become an increasing challenge for health care providers, particularly in the face of an ongoing opioid epidemic in the United States. In response, the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has made funding research on integrative health approaches to pain management—exploring which approaches can be implemented as part of an overall treatment strategy—a research priority.
Forbes magazine recently ran an article showcasing six handy mobile apps that were built using federal government open data. The apps range from the Alternative Fueling Station Locator to ZocDoc (a doctor locator). What I especially like about the Forbes article is that the author describes the federal government data sets behind each app. There are many more mobile apps built by federal government agencies or using federal government data sources.
Twitter is more than just a platform for sharing news and updates: it can be a tool for directly communicating with your community and understanding what is important to them. One way you can connect with your Twitter audience is by hosting a Twitter Chat. They can be a good way to discuss key topics, raise awareness, and exchange knowledge and resources between you and the community. Several HIV organizations host Twitter chats on health topics, during HIV awareness days relevant to their community, and/or during HIV/AIDS conferences.
MedlinePlus is a consumer health website produced by the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM), available in both English and Spanish. As part of our Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategy, we recently added meta descriptions to our health topic pages. A meta description is a short HTML attribute in the head tag that describes the contents of a web page. When the meta description is not available or is poorly written, search engines automatically generate their own version to describe what is on a web page.
We naturally gravitate towards story-telling. It’s part of our human nature that began thousands of years ago, well before the written word. We want to pass down our history and cultures, and we do this by telling stories because they resonate with us. Stories tap into our emotions. They make us feel. They move us to action. When we talk about the centennial of World War I, we have to make it personal for the American public, or else we run the risk of forgetting this war.
Regardless of the platform, industry or niche, you became a social media influencer in one of two ways: adopting early or promoting great content. Early adopters are willing to gamble on a new platform, try an untested strategy or set precedent for other users. The risk is in the understanding that they could fail publicly. The rewards, though, are equally large: the ability to amass a large and active following, build relationships with other key influencers, and succeed in a space that is equally forgiving of a short-term failure.
DigitalGov University (DGU), the events platform for DigitalGov, provides programming to build and accelerate digital capacity by providing webinars and in-person events highlighting innovations, case studies, tools, and resources. Thanks to your participation, DGU hosted over 90 events with 6,648 attendees from over 100 agencies across federal, tribal, state, and local governments. DGU strives to provide training throughout the year that is useful and relevant to you. One of the most resounding comments from digital managers last year was people wanted to be able to attend all of our classes virtually.
Every first week of every month, USAGov’s marketing team sends an office-wide email newsletter to give an update on past and current marketing efforts and campaigns. It’s how we try to help keep the rest of the office in the know. The monthly newsletter can spur a content idea, a future marketing endeavor, and act as a reminder of what’s coming up that month that contributors need to be aware of.
In a move to win back users and improve the company’s image, Twitter introduced quality filters in August. They followed this move in November with an option to mute certain words. These changes will have larger ramifications for federal agencies, who will need to focus on quality of content in order to retain their audience base and reach. In recent statement on the change, Twitter promised that the filters would “improve the quality of Tweets you see by using a variety of signals, such as account origin and behavior.
Summary: How to leverage your resources to reach Spanish-dominant Hispanics online. A recent DigitalGov University (DGU) webinar provided an introduction to the intersection of two teams with different audiences reaching consensus on goals to maximize insight and outreach effectiveness. Social Media Outreach Goals What does social media outreach success look like? Success is when agencies and stakeholders have developed relationships that support each other’s social media and digital campaigns.
In April, Facebook made it possible for organizations to use chatbots to send and receive messages from users of Facebook Messenger. That’s a big deal. Facebook Messenger is now used by 900 million people every month. As the name implies, it’s a messaging platform that people use to send short messages to each other through the app. It’s the most popular messaging app in the U.S, and the second most popular of those apps worldwide, behind only WhatsApp (which Facebook also owns).
I recently asked some friends—a group of intelligent, successful individuals—what they knew about World War I. The responses I received included, “Ummm…..it was in the 1910s?” or “Started in Europe when the archduke was killed?” Beyond this, it’s mostly blank stares and shoulder shrugs. People who consider themselves history geeks might mention President Woodrow Wilson’s 14 Points, or the creation of the League of Nations, but for many Americans, World War I is a forgotten war.
Summary: Take a look at how we plan to preserve and pass on the digital history of the Obama administration. President Obama is the first “social media president”: the first to have @POTUS on Twitter, the first to go live on Facebook from the Oval Office, the first to answer questions from citizens on YouTube, the first to use a filter on Snapchat. Over the past eight years, the President, Vice President, First Lady, and the White House have used social media and technology to engage with people around the country and the world on the most important issues of our time (while having some fun along the way).
Trends on Tuesdays: Mobile Phone Camera Upgrades Offer Interesting Opportunities for Government Agencies
Professional photographer and early “iPhonography” pioneer, Chase Jarvis coined the phrase, “The best camera is the one that’s with you.” The recent jumps in mobile phone photo technology presents interesting opportunities for government agencies to consider as mobile phone cameras are starting to rival and surpass professional gear. When Google and Apple both announced their annual flagship phone upgrades this past month, the Pixel XL and iPhone 7 Plus, respectively, the most talked about and touted features were the cameras.
GobiernoUSA, just like USA.gov, is part of a unique effort with a large mission—to guide people to the government information and services they seek. We cover a lot of topics in Spanish via our website, social media platforms, email sends, and contact center. One of the communication channels we focus a lot of attention on is social media, and we routinely measure how our efforts are going. We focused first on our assumed engagement power hitter – Facebook, to learn more from its Insights analytics data.
Infographics are a useful tool for communicators to share complex data and information in a quick, easy-to-read format. Infographics can be beautifully designed works of art, pulling in a reader through storytelling and visual entertainment. And like art, infographics can be large, epic works, or small treasures. While a massive infographic immediately arrests due to its overwhelming data content and creative approach, sometimes it can still fall flat by just being plain overwhelming.
In December, I plan to write two postings detailing a scenario analysis for the next ten years of the Federal government’s data technologies. Governments are on the cusp of amazing technological advances propelled by artificial intelligence, blockchain technologies, and the Internet of Things. Also, governments will face new challenges such as the recent global cyber attack that took down Twitter and Netflix. I want to invite you, the reader, to also send in your predictions for the future of Federal government data.
Today we’re launching three new initiatives powered by GSA Digital Communities that leap federal agencies ahead on some of the most innovative new capabilities becoming available to our programs — Artificial Intelligence, Virtual/Augmented Reality, and the U.S. Digital Registry. These new Communities and portal are products of inter-agency collaboration and our shared commitment pushing the bar forward on effective adoption of digital public services that meet the needs of citizens today and tomorrow… and plant seeds for growing long into the future.
This post is written by Jeannie Chen, Mary King, and Hilary Parkinson and is part of our ongoing series about our social media strategy. We welcome comments from staff, other cultural institutions, and the public, and will continue to update the strategy as a living document. When we introduced NARA’s new social media strategy in August, we called it a living document. But what does that mean? We wanted it to be the most relevant and up-to-date framework to guide our social media efforts, and to evolve as we worked.
What does Snapchat, the disappearing message-and-video platform most used by teenagers, have to do with government outreach and communications programs? Well, Snapchat has quickly become an incredibly effective digital storytelling medium, and content creators across multiple government agencies have adopted it as an important part of their programs. A recent New York Times article described how nearly 35 million users in the United States watched highlights and stories from the Summer Olympics on Snapchat.
Hi there, DigitalGov! Have you looked in vain for quality animated GIFs from a reputable source? Have your searches left you annoyed and frustrated because you can’t find a GIF with properly attributed and sourced content? Wondering what you can do and where to look? Come on over to the new Giphy channel from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)! We’ve opened our vault to reveal dozens of animated GIFs ready to share and use.
We are fortunate to meet amazing immigrants every day and share in their immigration journeys. Now we have a unique opportunity to share their stories with the world using Instagram. Today, we launched our Instagram account under the handle @USCIS and @USCIS_ES (Spanish version) and will share photos, graphics and videos to highlight our vital work. Our Instagram handle joins our popular Facebook and Twitter accounts. Instagram differs from Facebook and Twitter by being visually focused with photos and minimal captions.
September is National Preparedness Month. FEMA’s Ready.gov is encouraging everyone to plan how they would stay safe and communicate during disasters that can affect their communities. Additionally, Ready.gov is encouraging full participation in America’s PrepareAthon! and the national day of action, National PrepareAthon! Day, which culminates National Preparedness Month on September 30. These days, you probably use social media to update your audience on what you are doing, share an interesting article or two, and catch up on the day’s news.
In six years, you can get a lot done! If you are the International Space Station, you could have orbited the earth 35,040 times. If you are Apple, you could have released 10 new iPhones. If you are the National Archives, you have gone from zero social media accounts to over 100! It’s been six years since NARA’s first social strategy was released. Things have changed in the digital universe, and so we’ve been working on a reboot of our social media strategy.
The Content Corner: On-The-Fly Content Strategies (Round-offs, Back Handsprings, & Double Twisting Layouts Not Required)
As effective marketers and communicators, we are constantly seeking new and improved ways to reach our audience or customer base. These days, our “online lives” intersect with every activity we are involved in, so timeliness is essential. With fresh ideas and engaging, perhaps interactive, content, we can literally make a difference in the lives of our audience. Much of this can be developed and organized through a well thought-out content calendar in advance that seeks to align our content with upcoming events and trends that our audience is interested in.
Widgets, Mobile Apps, and SMS: Essential Agency Tools for Summer Heat Safety, Hurricane Season, and Emergency Preparedness
According to recent Pew Research Center surveys, 45 percent of American adults have tablets and 68 percent have smartphones. While the majority of smartphone owners use their mobile devices to keep up with breaking news and stay informed about what is happening in their communities, nearly half, 40 percent, also reported using their smartphones to look up government services or information. As is the case each summer, most of the U.
****Content can be categorized in many ways. While breaking down your website analytics, pay a bit of extra attention to the difference between your short- and long-form content; you may find some interesting discoveries. Let’s first define the two terms: Short – Content that is generally created quickly, and consumed just as fast; e.g., tweets, status updates, short blogs and articles (350 words or less). Long – In-depth content designed to give a large amount of detail and info; e.
“… I have never seen so many people of all ages walking around our civic spaces and small businesses interacting as I have this morning. Teens catching them. People catching them in line for coffee. Moms outsmarting their kids. Local youths teaching my toddler how to throw a ball. Full grown adults. Marines. Kids on scooters. Kids on bikes. 20-somethings walking in packs. How are other small towns faring? Awesome to be outside right now building a community over something so silly and fun.
Augmented Reality games have existed for years, but have mostly failed to catch a mainstream audience; Pokémon Go just changed all that this weekend. The game that launched early this month has exploded in popularity and is close to surpassing Twitter in daily active users, according to Forbes’ Jason Evangelho. “The data gets even more staggering. As of 48 hours ago, Pokémon GO was installed on 5.6% of all Android devices in the United States, and is installed on more Android phones than Tinder (insert “Pokémon is now more popular than sex” joke here),” he cited.
User-Generated Content (UGC) is a buzzword as of late, popularized recently due to the ever increasing demand for new content. To define the phrase, let’s look to a shining example of it,Wikipedia, as a source, “any form of content such as blogs, wikis, discussion forums, posts, chats,tweets, podcasts, digital images, video, audio files, advertisements, and other forms of media that was created by users of an online system or service, often made available via social media websites.
Tech giants have changed the world of broadcast forever. In a little more than a year, video on Facebook went from being a seldomly seen media type on a user’s timeline to a strategic priority for Mark Zuckerberg. The platform now serves over 8 billion video views a day and Facebook continues to roll out improvements to Facebook Live, a tool that lets any Facebook user easily broadcast from their mobile phone.
Technology is bringing the world closer together – from connecting people across the country instantly by live video chats to tapping into the insights of data analytics. This is the type of power that FirstNet aims to bring to the public safety community through the nationwide public safety broadband network. FirstNet is working to ensure the deployment of a network for public safety use that will give first responders priority in emergency situations to send voice or text messages, images, video, and location information in real time.
Twitter has come a long way. In ten years of evolution, we’ve seen Twitter go from a simple text messaging service to a versatile platform, which in the words of Twitter, provides a “rich canvas for creative expression featuring photos, videos, hashtags, Vines, and more.” Now Twitter is offering additional enhancements to their service to make it easier to engage with customers and accomplish our mission. So what do all these upcoming changes mean for your government account?
The National Archives is pleased to participate in the U.S. Digital Registry, the authoritative resource for official third-party websites, social media platforms and mobile apps managed by the U.S. federal government. The U.S. Digital Registry is an API-generating platform designed to authenticate third-party sites in the federal government in order to help maintain accountability over our digital services. As more users access services, communicate, and engage with their government online and through social media, the U.
Facebook is a highly visual medium. Studies show that Facebook posts featuring photos are the most noticed, liked, and shared. Posts featuring an image stand out in the news feeds of people who like your page. While a great image can cut through the clutter, you don’t need to fill your feed. Think “representative” and high-quality images. Showcase a few great pictures that give a sense of an event–an AIDS walk, for example–and share the photos that bring to life an aspect of your work or your agency’s services.
Last summer, Kids.Gov revamped its presence on Pinterest in an attempt to find new ways to connect with its followers. The Marketing Team set out to learn more about our audiences and the kind of content they like. Despite being a difficult platform to navigate, we set lofty goals for ourselves and developed a timely strategy to pin every day. A year in… Twelve months later, our metrics are up and we correctly calculated that a shift to educational content would be key.
In early April, the National Institutes of Health put out a call for images highlighting NIH-funded scientific research. The image call was posted on the NIH image gallery website and advertised through the NIH Public Information Officers (PIO) Network. The NIH Image Gallery, which averages 6,000 views per day, features free-to-use images for the general public, educational institutions, and news media. Through the sharing of images, NIH hopes to distribute educational information, increase public outreach, and expand awareness of the scientific discoveries and breakthroughs being made by NIH-funded research.
The medium is the message. Marshall McLuhan In a little over a year, Facebook video went from simply being one of the content types that could be shared to the user timeline to a 8B video views per day powerhouse that’s also a huge priority for Mark Zuckerberg. We’ve heard about the big numbers from digital native publishers like AJ+ and NowThis, and we’ve heard from the doubters who say that the metrics don’t hold up to traditional TV measurements.
Good communicators are always…well…evaluating the way they communicate. As we think of the “customer experience,” it is key to constantly consider your methods for engaging with your audience. Just as the platforms themselves continue to change to keep their audience, continuing to refine our ways of sending messages will assure that you don’t get left behind. With the explosion of social media, almost to the point of supplanting traditional media, various software platforms seek to assist communicators with planning and even the day-to-day.
FDA’s “The Real Cost” campaign aims to be edgy, just like its teen audience. Last month, the campaign won the 2016 Shorty Award for the Best Overall Tumblr Presence. “The Real Cost” educates youth ages 12 to 17 about the harmful effects of tobacco use. The campaign works to prevent teens from picking up cigarettes or trying other tobacco products. The audience isn’t just any teens out there; it’s specifically teens who are open to trying tobacco.
ComScore released a report with a lot of great data about how mobile digital media usage continues to explode in 2016. It has 70 pages of charts and information to digest. Here are seven key mobile trends and takeaways: Smartphones are exponentially driving digital media usage.** ** Digital media has tripled since 2013 and digital media use is being driven heavily by smartphones—up by 78% since 2013.
In the next couple of years as new social media platforms emerge and organizations open more accounts, when do you make the decision to shut an account down? When resources are limited, we must analyze the effectiveness of our social media programs and put our time and effort into the accounts that best serve our audiences. For NIDA, this meant merging our Drug Facts Facebook page into our main NIDA Facebook page, so we could better serve our social media followers and redirect our time into a more effective account.
Yesterday, we shared our Snapchat account with the public. After weeks of testing the tool to iron out kinks and determine how we’d make content accessible, we were excited to go public when the official government-friendly terms of service were signed. So now you may be asking, why is the U.S. government using Snapchat and what will it be sharing? Here are our top three reasons for using Snapchat.
One of the biggest things we take into account whenever we consider launching on a new social platform is how we can make the information we share through that tool as accessible as possible. In its current form, Snapchat isn’t a highly accessible platform. This isn’t a problem that’s unique to Snapchat. Many emerging technologies are not up to government accessibility standards, which poses a challenge for the innovative agencies that want to adopt them.
I’ve recently been required to focus more attention on social media from a federal agency standpoint and this has directly led to a greater consideration of content. One of my first steps was to begin sharing various forms of content and gauge the success of each type. In today’s post, I’ll share what I have learned and hope it opens your eyes to how we measure success and whether our metrics are right or completely meaningless.
FirstNet is a relatively new “startup” federal government agency with the mission of building, operating and maintaining a broadband network for the millions of first responders in the 56 states, territories and Washington D.C. Given the nature of our mission, we are always looking for new avenues to connect with our nation’s courageous law enforcement, fire service and EMS personnel who put their lives on the line everyday to make our communities safer and educate them about the FirstNet network.
We have received an amazing response to the U.S. Digital Registry, our new API-generating repository for official third-party sites, social media platforms and mobile apps in the United States federal government. Federal digital managers have already added over 7,300 accounts and are continuously adding and updating social media and mobile app accounts in the registry. Outside of government, private and public sector organizations have been submitting feedback and offering praise.
As I begin to wind down my time at The Content Corner, I have realized that one of my biggest content concerns uncovered during my tenure is digital sharecropping. The recent announcement from Facebook that they will soon open their Instant Articles publishing capability to everyone was reason enough for me to revisit the topic of owning and controlling our content one more time. While I dislike the term digital sharecropping (coined by Nicholas Carr), I haven’t found a better or more succinct explanation for this ongoing drive for private companies and platforms to own our content (while we do all the work).
The first phase of our partnership with Facebook included Facebook “megaphones” being rolled out in a handful of states with rapidly approaching voter registration deadlines. Facebook’s megaphone is a featured box that is displayed at the top of all user’s News Feeds. (You may recall seeing these after certain disasters giving users the option to quickly donate to Red Cross or other organizations). We piloted the voter registration megaphone in South Carolina on January 15.
Whether for voter registration, health services or questions about taxes, trusting what and who you engage with online is critical. We’d like to introduce to you a new API-generating repository for official third-party sites, social media platforms and mobile apps in the United States federal government that can help you do that and remove bureaucratic and technological barriers between users and digital public services. It’s called the U.S. Digital Registry, and we hope you’ll join us in using it to develop a new generation of services that:
There are 11.7 million + reasons to be on Twitter—the approximate number of Hispanics in the U.S. who are using the platform. And out of those 11.7 million, 43% tweet in English and in Spanish. Hispanics over index their counterparts when it comes to digital technologies and services, but how do you reach them and target your messages via Twitter chats? On December 9, USAGov and Salud Today led a DigitalGov University webinar to discuss how to organize, plan, and execute a successful bilingual Twitter chat.
I work for the Department of Veterans Affairs in a national benefits office that oversees Veterans life Insurance programs. Our office has held a couple of successful Twitter Town Halls. They get a little smoother each time because we make a point of adjusting our style based on our lessons learned. After answering a question about Twitter Town Halls on a listserv, DigitalGov.gov asked if I would write a blog about my experience.
Like many of you, we watched with great interest this week when a citizen submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) asking them to release to the public Wu-Tang Clan’s album, Once Upon a Time in Shaolin. While official sources explain that the desired outcome is not possible at this time… …in light of this creative effort, let’s discuss how you too can use FOIA and other Open Government programs to build a better tomorrow.
When Alex Snyder started working at Peace Corps a few years ago, he had an opportunity to explore a new platform for housing their digital assets. As a professional photographer himself, he saw the value in focusing on visual elements and making those more accessible. He focused on making the library about photos, video and graphics, and looked for a system that improved the photo submission process while displaying the decade’s worth of images the Peace Corps accrued.
How do you capture millennial and Hispanic eyes? Through their hands. (More specifically: their mobile devices, and the social apps within!). AdAge recently analyzed a study from Nielsen’s Homescan panel which found that in a typical month, 12.2% of millennials can only be reached through TV (looking at the top 10 networks only) versus 14.2% who can only be reached on Facebook. The numbers are similar for U.S. Hispanics: 16.
Twitter polls allow you to tweet out simple A or B style opinion polls. These polls can spark some great engagement, but you’ll want to keep a few things in mind before getting started: To stay within the social media general solicitations of feedback exemption to the Paperwork Reduction Act, we need to make sure that we’re using polls to get low stakes, voluntary input from users. Keep your polls fairly light and avoid asking about anything that will be used in the creation of formal policy or rule making.
The power of using social media to find and create images can be overwhelming. What image do I post? How can I get more followers when I don’t have animals or pretty pictures to share? All good questions. The fact is, no matter what your agency does you can find a visual way to tell your story and connect with people who care about what you do. It’s just helpful to think through the best way to tell your story, first.
I’ve been thinking a lot about Instagram lately. It’s pretty big, especially among the younger populations (AKA. Millennials). Actually, from what I can tell, it’s pretty big with lots of different age groups, genders, and ethnicities; and it’s growing every day. Full disclosure: I use Instagram in my personal life. I love it. Especially now that our phone cameras have improved beyond what most people can manage with a DSLR.
On September 1, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) hosted our first Twitter Office Hours, a Twitter chat for USCIS customers. The purpose of this pilot event was to offer our customers a different way to engage with us. We aimed to leverage Twitter to answer questions on our agency’s programs and policies and to counter rumors and incorrect information that exist in the public sphere. We were inspired to launch this event after hearing about the popular Office Hours hosted by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) team at the Department of Education.
Hispanics are one of fastest growing demographics in the U.S. But like any demographic, there are important nuances to consider when connecting with this audience. Insight into your audience’s motivations, behavior and preferences is key for anyone trying to engage with the public. We know every day that more and more Hispanics are on social media, but on which platforms?, Where are they participating? And more importantly, in what language?
Looking for health or science related images? The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recently launched the NIH Image Gallery on Flickr. The Image Gallery offers a wide variety of scientific, biomedical and disease related imagery as well as photos of NIH leadership, labs, buildings and major historical events. Additionally, you can find NIH infographics, b-roll, and the latest research images. The Flickr site was developed as a means to distribute images to the press and public while ensuring proper license, permissions and copyright protections are documented.
We are proud to announce our commitment to the third U.S. National Action Plan for Open Government, released this week at the Open Government Partnership (OGP) Global Summit in Mexico City, Mexico, and are also eager to share how Public Participation can empower our citizens to have a greater voice and impact in improving their services. In her opening comments at the OGP Summit, Samantha Power, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, noted that making a real impact for citizens takes more than a focus on just increasing social media followers or touting simulated performance, and instead we must dedicate digital engagement programs to providing real, meaningful paths to participation.
On October 19th, NIH brought together nearly 1,500 digital and health experts in person and via webcast. The event featured two keynote speakers and panels that showcased the unique perspectives of patients and caregivers, health communicators, health professionals and scientists. Susannah Fox, Chief Technology Officer of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), said we have entered the “third digital era.” First we connected documents, then we connected people.
At the Peace Corps, we continually try to find new ways to test, measure and optimize our marketing and communications initiatives. Recently, we embarked on a project to design a framework to test and optimize content on the social media platforms we use to engage our stakeholders. This process required us to reboot our expectations in terms of measurement and re-think our social goals, but in the end it has made our decision-making process much stronger.
Through the course of this blog, I have frequently mentioned the need to feed the content beast and have discussed tactics such as the content pillar and various other aspects of developing a solid content strategy. Recent research from the Content Marketing Institute found the average business-to-business (B2B) company uses 13 content marketing tactics or channels, such as blogs, videos, events, etc. I’m sure that most federal agencies also have as wide an array of channels as well.
In our personal lives, most of us barely pay attention to Terms of Service (TOS) agreements. But in our professional lives, as federal employees, mindlessly clicking through a TOS is not an option. The DigitalGov article Getting to Yes: Working with Vendors to Secure Terms of Service and Federal Friendly Pricing explored the legal dilemmas that arise when negotiating TOS agreements for government use of tools, and how federal employees can communicate the benefits of federal-friendly agreements to businesses.
On DigitalGov, we frequently talk about some of the most popular app experiences, and research almost always shows that mobile messaging and social apps are the most frequently used. Pew Research released a new report specifically about these wildly popular channels for mobile engagement, specifically focused on how youth use them, with some interesting results that government agencies should pay attention to for their digital strategies. The report author, Maeve Duggan, said, “The results in this report reflect the noteworthy and rapid emergence of different kinds of communications tools serving different social needs.
Julia Child and the OSS Recipe for Shark Repellent: http://t.co/q3cC4QiJhR #SharkWeek #OSS #WWII pic.twitter.com/Idbo1OkPLP — CIA (@CIA) July 9, 2015 The Central Intelligence Agency launched their Twitter account with the second most retweeted inaugural post in the platform’s history: “We can neither confirm nor deny that this is our first tweet.” Now for the first time, on the DigitalGov podcast, learn from the CIA itself the best practices behind one of the most high-profile social media accounts in both the public and private sector.
We’ve been excited to see the outpouring of interest this week in response to Yelp’s decision to amend their terms of service for official government use, a clear message that citizens want more ways to ensure their voices are heard by the public programs that serve them. Yelp is just one of dozens of platforms similarly available for agencies to listen to the “Voice of the Customer,” like Feedback USA.
For millions of Americans, federal student loans have made it possible to get a college education. For many, moving forward after college can become an overwhelming challenge. In 2014, the Department of Education had 41 million borrowers and a loan portfolio of $1.1 trillion. The stat alone speaks to the issue of loan repayment and its magnitude in our country. To make the repayment process easier, the U.S. Department of Education’s office of Federal Student Aid (FSA) runs campaigns that are meant to inform borrowers about the repayment options available to them.
Adding customer satisfaction ratings and reviews to public services just got easier now that Yelp offers a terms of service for official government use. Yelp, a Web and mobile-based user review platform, hosts insights from “real people giving their honest and personal opinions on everything from restaurants and spas to coffee shops.” With the addition of Public Services and Government under the Yelp umbrella, agencies can continue to find new ways to use customer insights to improve citizen services.
You have a question about a project. You ping a coworker, who texts another colleague, who emails a listserv and receives 3 responses. And the problem is: where will your supervisor find the answer next month, when someone else asks the same question? Corralling the cacophony of texts, tweets, and emails is a serious undertaking. Some of the free tools designed to manage communication and increase efficiency now have federal-friendly terms of service (TOS) agreements.
What is Medium? Good question. Is it a publishing platform, a social network, a distribution channel, a 21st century version of the op-ed page, or something else? With a continuously evolving feature-set, Medium defies simple classification. Perhaps it is best to think about Medium in terms of what you can accomplish with it. With a new federal-friendly terms of service being rolled out this week, now is a good time to reconsider Medium’s use (and usefulness) in government.
Planning your next national park adventure (from the comfort of your couch) is easier than ever with a new website, Find Your Park.com. Launched on April 2nd, the mobile-friendly FindYourPark.com was designed and launched by the National Park Foundation (NPF), the non-profit organization affiliated with the National Park Service (NPS). The website is part of the celebration campaign for NPS’s centennial in 2016. Nana Efua Embil, Assistant Centennial Coordinator for NPS, said that the goal of the FYP website aligns with the overall NPS centennial goal: connecting with and creating the next generation of park visitors, supporters, and advocates.
As with any communications effort, the social media bottom line comes down to impact. Can you prove that the time, money and effort put into social media helped achieve your agency’s goals? In a world obsessed with big data, it’s tempting to track every detail simply because you can. With more data comes more confusion over what data is important enough be tracked and, just as essential, how to report that data in a way that facilitates decision making.
When one thinks of social media, usually it is thought of as a tool to keep in touch with friends and family. Behind all the social networking lies vast amounts of data that can be used in a multitude of ways. This data is an opportunity for government agencies to improve the services they provide to the public. There are a number of agencies that are using social media data in order to improve services and cut costs.
There’s no doubt that traditional social media sites like Facebook and Twitter have transformed how we communicate with stakeholders. Quora is another tool for agencies seeking to engage highly-educated thought leaders and influencers, policy makers, entrepreneurs, scientists, engineers and journalists worldwide. The brainchild of two former Facebook employees with the backing of Wikipedia’s founder, Quora aims to share and grow the world’s knowledge by serving as a centralized Q&A site.
Twenty years ago, the chances of watching an NBA game with commentary in a language other than English were small. Today, the NBA transmits games in 47 languages to 215 countries across the world. This is a perfect example of how organizations have evolved over time to meet the demands of their audiences. Evidence like this is the reason many government agencies have launched social media accounts and other digital content dedicated to a Spanish-speaking audience.
While Facebook and Twitter are the most popular social media platforms (according to some rankings), your agency can and should evaluate the benefits of platforms like Pinterest, which have seen major growth in users and activity. In the last six months of 2014, Pinterest increased its membership by 57%, while Facebook and Twitter only grew by 6% and 18%, respectively. More than 60% of millennial moms use Pinterest, making it a platform perfect for agencies looking to communicate topics related to children and women’s health; DigitalGov previously discussed how the Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Women’s Health used Pinterest as part of an inter-agency health campaign.
The #SocialGov Community is coming up on three years of hard work and pushing the boundaries on using social tools across the federal government. I’d like to start this round up by taking a look at the event we hosted last year, State of the #SocialGov 2014: 2 Years of Smashing Silos + Elevating Citizen Services with Social Media. Justin Herman, #SocialGov Community Lead, moderated a talk looking at the work delivered by the SocialGov CoP over the past 2 years and looked ahead to the next year.
While examples of government social media content may initially seem like mere fun—the YouTube video of President Obama on Between Two Ferns or the Transportation Security Administration’s “good catch” pics of lipstick stun guns and batarangs—the potential of applied social data to build, evaluate and improve diverse citizen services is only increasing. As we recently discussed on DigitalGov, social media tools are for more than one-way marketing and communication: they provide a connective, responsive capability to public services.
Armed with a smartphone instead of a badge, ordinary Americans are helping law enforcement officers capture child predators. After exhausting all investigative leads, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents turn to the public for help to locate fugitive child predators through the Operation Predator smartphone app and social media outreach. And it’s working. Since Operation Predator launched for iPhones in September 2013 and Android devices in Oct 2014, the app has assisted in 6 arrests on charges related to child exploitation.
There are multiple health-related Twitter chats every day of the week. There are chats focused on specific conditions, on the healthcare system, on treatments, on products and on practices. If your agency or organization is interested in leading a conversation in this sphere, it can be a challenge to have your voice heard and messages shared in an impactful way. On Wednesday, April 29, the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) held a Twitter chat on healthy aging, with a specific focus on mind and body approaches such as yoga, tai chi, and meditation.
May is #WorldTradeMonth and each year the U.S. Trade and Development Agency celebrates the month by highlighting the partnerships it has with 39 state and local organizations that promote U.S. exports in their home states through an initiative called #MakingGlobalLocal. What that means is that those 39 organizations with social media accounts, especially Twitter, will get mentioned in posts each day and may potentially share what USTDA tweets to their followers.
One of the most interesting trends forming at the start of 2015 is the rise of new digital publishers. Online entities from Facebook to GE are continuing their strong forays into the world of content production. This shift, especially among social media platforms such as Facebook, Linked In and Snapchat, could significantly alter the digital landscape turning content partners into content competitors. No Longer Just an Aggregator LinkedIn’s decision to grow their original Influencer program from such respected names as Bill Gates and Richard Branson into a full digital publishing suite available to all their members in multiple languages may have been the watershed moment of this new age of content publishing.
Animated gifs are increasingly found throughout the digital experience of today’s users. They offer a dynamic presentation of information in a format that can be both more performance-effective and cost-effective than standard video or images, making them valuable for federal teams looking to bring their programs to the modern digital space and improve customer satisfaction. To find out how animated gifs can be developed to measurably improve public services, we hosted “Essentials of Animated Gifs for Gov” for almost 200 managers in the U.
Social media tools can amplify your agency’s message, but they are also a meeting space for two-way conversations. They can be a key tool to resolve user issues and deliver excellent customer service. This is true for agencies in every corner of the government space. In honor of our monthly contact center theme, we reached out to the Social Media Community of Practice to learn more about how social media complements the work of federal contact centers.
DigitalGov has seen posts from members of the community who land on opposite sides regarding social sharing buttons. There are those who find social sharing buttons useful (When Sharing Buttons Work and those who’ve found the opposite (To Use Social Sharing Buttons or Not. I’d argue the utility can be found in adjusting how, or more specifically where, you use them. But first… The Basics What are social sharing buttons?
Multilingual does not always mean multiple accounts or websites. Increasingly, multilingual content is delivered in an integrated way, with two (or more!) languages delivered on the same website, app, or social media platform. The World Digital Library (WDL) is one example of how multiple languages can be incorporated on single platforms. The WDL is a hub for cultural artifacts that includes books, manuscripts, maps, newspapers, journals, photographs, sound recordings, and films.
Part of my job as an analyst on the Digital Analytics Program (DAP) team is to help agency users try to make sense of digital analytics data by using web analytics tools. I love that part of my job, but there’s one question I get asked far too much: “Why does my traffic referred from social media look so incredibly low?” In response, I hope the next sentence brings a sigh of relief to many federal social media managers who are wondering why the heck their hard work doesn’t look like it is paying off when they use Google Analytics, WebTrends, or Omniture to gauge success.
Sharing Social Media Strategies: The National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace Program Office
Creating a tweet, posting a photo, or updating a status may take mere seconds. However, a well-thought-out social media strategy is needed for long-term success. In fact, the recently released U.S. Public Participation Playbook mentions strategy in its very first play: clearly define and communicate your objectives. Knowing what you hope to accomplish and how you want to get there is imperative, and social media is no exception.
Ever since we announced IFTTT was available for federal use, dozens of ideas have been shared for how program managers can use the tool to increase their productivity. I asked some API enthusiasts in the SocialGov community which of their favorite recipes were must-haves for all digital teams or for those new to the platform. First, for those not familiar with it, IFTTT (as in “If This Then That”) combines 166 channels like Twitter, Android and iOS Location, and RSS into “recipes” that can integrate government social media, data, location-based services, and the Internet of Things.
Like private sector organizations, U.S. public sector organizations have experienced shifts in how they use both the Internet and social media to interact with the public. The mid-1990s onwards saw an increase in the number of websites helping individual members of the public learn more about various public sector organizations and initiatives directly from the organizational source, instead of having to go in-person to a library or view microfiche.
Myth-busting isn’t just for television. And through a multi-faceted, tech-savvy campaign based on strategic partnerships, one federal office has found a winning strategy for combating misinformation. National Drug Facts Week (NDFW) is a health awareness week for teenagers, with the goal of debunking myths about drugs. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the National Institutes of Health, organizes the week and reaches teens in a relevant, engaging way.
DC was the Silicon Valley of the 1880’s. And Alexander Graham Bell? He was more than just a telephone man. His Volta Laboratory was the premier 19th century innovation center. The work of Bell and his contemporaries is the focus of a new exhibition at Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History (NMAH), “Hear My Voice: Alexander Graham Bell and the Origins of Recorded Sound.” Included in the exhibit are never-before-seen lab documents as well as early recording discs.
Tackling technology tasks just got easier. Recently, federal agencies negotiated eight new Terms of Service (TOS) Agreements for free apps and services. DigitalGov has an extensive list of federal-friendly TOS agreements for free products, and the list is updated as new TOS agreements are created. Cyfe Cyfe, a business dashboard app, helps users monitor diverse data streams in one location. It displays information related to social media, analytics, marketing, sales, support, and infrastructure tools.
The newest addition to the federal government’s social media utility belt may also be one of its most powerful, as IFTTT (as in “If This Then That”) combines 166 channels like Twitter, Android and iOS Location and RSS into “recipes” that can integrate government social media, data, location-based services and the Internet of Things. The service, now one of nearly 80 social media platforms with federal-friendly Terms of Service, will both empower federal managers to operate more effectively and open its Developer platform to fuel everything from open archives to wearable devices with government APIs.
The federal government is one of the largest consumers of products and services in the United States. Yet, many agencies face tight budgets and firm guidelines that restrict the parameters under which agencies can use a product or service to complete projects. This presents an interesting opportunity and dilemma for agencies who want to procure new digital tools to complete their projects. Dilemmas There are strict guidelines that govern the contracts and legal agreements into which the federal government can enter in order to use a tool or service.
We released the United States Public Participation Playbook this week, a new open resource agencies can use to evaluate and build better programs that give a voice to the people they serve—and the response was fantastic. Public servants and citizens around the world have shared it, and already are contributing new ideas that build from the work of the team of 70 federal leaders, more than a dozen engagement experts, and citizens themselves who worked together to launch it.
Updated: Added link to Twitter’s blog post on direct video uploads. Around the time that Tim Fullerton of the Department of Interior delivered his webcast to DigitalGov audiences about publishing video content to Facebook, we at the Broadcasting Board of Governors were comparing the differences in user behavior on the Facebook and YouTube video platforms (note: BBG is the federal agency that oversees all U.S. civilian international media, including Voice of America and Radio Free Europe.
Federal agencies must prepare social media readiness procedures for cyber-vandalism, effectively recover control during an incident, and respond quickly to the public to maintain confidence in digital services. A new toolkit developed by more than a dozen government managers and representatives from major social media platforms, “Readiness, Recovery Response: Social Media Cyber-Vandalism Toolkit,” will help agencies evaluate and improve security of their programs to ensure they are better prepared for emerging challenges.
The U.S. Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently unveiled a new mobile app to help people who have been drinking get a safe ride home. The ‘SaferRide’ mobile app, gives holiday revelers an easy way to find a ride home when they’ve had too much to drink instead of getting behind the wheel. The app encourages potential drunk drivers to stay off of the road by helping them contact a close friend, find their location, and connect directly to a taxi company to secure a safe ride.
One death every 52 minutes. That’s how frequently someone died in crashes involving a drunk driver in the U.S. in 2013—10,076 deaths in total. While that number represents a 2.5% reduction in deaths from the previous year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is offering a new mobile app—called SaferRide—to save more lives. Simply put, SaferRide helps people who have been drinking to get a safe ride home.
As agencies strive for success in digital government, they often need to open their virtual doors and meet the public in new and evolving spaces. Federal Student Aid meets its audience in the 21st century public square at monthly #AskFAFSA sessions. During the live Twitter chat, students, parents and the general public can submit questions about financial aid using the #AskFAFSA hashtag. The event is held on the last Wednesday of each month, and questions are answered from the @FAFSA Twitter account from 5 pm until 6 pm, EST.
When the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed in 1990, there was no Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn. Since then, the number of social media channels, and their use for communication among all demographics, has grown exponentially. Unfortunately, however, despite newer ways to reach individuals living with disabilities, many individuals in this community face challenges in gaining full access to the content and conversation on social media platforms.
As we round out 2014, we’re reflecting on the exciting year we’ve had at DigitalGov since we launched in February. Our mission is to share information and resources from agencies across the federal government that are working in the digital space, and highlight the services and communities that can help you meet your digital government goals. We look forward to bringing you more great content in 2015, but first we wanted to highlight the most popular articles on DigitalGov this year.
Social media for public service is a diverse field that uses platforms and data from both the private and public sectors to improve citizen services, make them easier to access and deliver them more cost effectively. It is not just public affairs or communications, but spreads into customer service, resource development and more. Many of the best examples of social media in government can’t be seen on the surface of a tweet or post, but in how these collaborative, engaging strategies improve the processes of public services themselves.
In December of 2004, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued the first Policies for Federal Public Websites. Over the past decade, we’ve seen technology completely transform how government delivers information and services to the public. On this 10-year anniversary, we’re taking a walk down memory lane to recap some of the pivotal moments that have shaped today’s digital government landscape. Year Activity 2004 February—Facebook launches (for colleges; opens to the public 2007) March—Interagency Committee on Government Information (ICGI) convenes to draft Web recommendations June—ICGI issues Recommendations for Federal Web Policies July—ICGI becomes the Web Content Management Working Group (predecessor to Federal Web Managers Council) August—HHS publishes its seminal Research-Based Web Design & Usability Guidelines (foundation for Usability.
The new third draft of the U.S. Public Participation Playbook continues to incorporate changes proposed from more than 100 suggestions submitted via public comment aimed at measuring the performance and improving the development of government programs. It takes the 13 initial “plays” from rough brainstorming and collaborations to a more refined, action-focused presentation that will help contributors understand and identify opportunities to contribute, based on feedback. The U.
In May 2015, we’re hosting the second DigitalGov Citizen Services Summit “Spring 2015 DigitalGov Citizen Services Summit”). This round we are looking to you—federal innovators across government—to help build the agenda. We want to get you the information you need, ignite discussion, foster sharing, build capacity, even get you to challenge and debate each other in the name of delivering better digital services. So, we’ve set up a crowdsourcing platform where you can suggest presentation ideas and vote for your favorites.
Creative content can be found in all corners of the federal space. Recently, the Law Library of Congress blog, In Custodia Legis, and the United States Courts blog, The Third Branch News, were named to the ABA Journal “Blawg 100” out of 4,000 legal blogs eligible for selection. We wanted insight on their blogging success, so we spoke with Andrew Weber, Legislative Information Systems Manager for the Law Library of Congress.
The new second draft of the U.S. Public Participation Playbook incorporates changes that were proposed from nearly 100 suggestions submitted after the first week of public comment, with more improvements to come. We still need your contributions for this groundbreaking new collaborative resource to measurably improve our participatory public services across government, and would like to take this opportunity to share what we have learned so far.
Sonia stands at the pharmacy counter, flashing her most brilliant smile. Jorge, the handsome neighborhood pharmacist, dispenses his own easy smile as they chat. Sound like an ordinary soap opera? This telenovela is actually a tool to help Spanish-speaking women make smart medication decisions. The four part telenovela series ¡Nunca Más! was developed by the Office of Women’s Health in the Food and Drug Administration. The office works to make all of their materials available in Spanish, and the popularity of telenovelas in the Spanish-speaking community made the project a perfect fit for delivering important health information.
When it comes to implementing a social media strategy, determining how to measure success can be challenging. Yes, knowing how many followers and likes you have is beneficial. However, to really get valuable results from the trove of social media data monitor, social media managers first need to understand what they are measuring and why. When you know your goals, you can determine what channels you will use to get there.
Public participation—where citizens help shape and implement government programs—is a foundation of open, transparent, and engaging government services. From emergency management and regulatory development to science and education, better and more meaningful engagement with those who use public services can measurably improve government for everyone. A team across the government is now working side-by-side with civil society organizations to deliver the first U.S. Public Participation Playbook, dedicated to providing best practices for how agencies can better design public participation programs, and suggested performance metrics for evaluating their effectiveness.
There are many ways to apply crowdfunding in the government space. This case study highlights the U.S. Department of State’s utilization of an online crowdfunding platform (CFP) to launch the Alumni Engagement Innovation Fund 2.0 (AEIF 2.0). Through this fundraising platform, exchange program alumni were able to work on innovative solutions to the world’s toughest challenges. Over 30 projects from around the world, including from the United States, were selected for AEIF 2.
It’s a well-known fact that the Hispanic population is growing at a rapid pace, and among the areas seeing the most interest and growth is business. According to the Small Business Administration (SBA), there are more than 3 million Hispanic-owned businesses in the U.S. today, a number that is growing at three times the national average. Latino purchasing power is expected to top $1.5 trillion by next year, which means that if the Hispanic market were its own country—it would be the world’s 11th largest economy.
You might have noticed a lot of people were talking about the elections yesterday, especially on social media. Election and voting hashtags were trending all day long as people around the country hit the polls to vote for senators, representatives, governors and more. And while plenty of people were really excited to simply let their friends and followers know they had cast a ballot, several others had questions about how to find their polling place or the hours it was open.
In the first part of A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Tokens, I explained why we built a social media-driven image search engine, and specifically how we used Elasticsearch to build its first iteration. In this week’s post, I’ll take a deep dive into how we worked to improve relevancy, recall, and the searcher’s experience as a whole. Redefine Recency To solve the scoring problem on older photos for archival photostreams, we decided that after some amount of time, say six weeks, we no longer wanted to keep decaying the relevancy on photos.
Ghosts. Ghouls. Zombies. Multi-stakeholder content audits. This Halloween there is no shortage of terrors lurking to keep federal Web managers up all night, and our work is largely done in one of the scariest domains of all: cyberspace. Every moment of every day, a vast system of computers and networks are actively working to support virtually every aspect of modern life, and along with it creating opportunities for Internet trolls, goblins, and other nefarious villains to target and exploit all manner of personal and professional information.
Increasingly, we’ve noticed that our agency customers are publishing their highest quality images on social media and within database-driven multimedia galleries on their websites. These sources are curated, contain metadata, and have both thumbnails and full-size images. That’s a big improvement in quality over the images embedded within HTML pages on agencies’ websites. After some investigating, we decided we could leverage their Flickr and Instagram photos to build an image search engine that better met their needs.
Content is no longer limited to .gov sites. As mentioned in a recent blog post, Sharing is Caring, Adding Social Media Accounts to Search, DigitalGov Search uses Flickr, Instagram, and YouTube to populate image and video search results. On September 30, 2014, I presented with Justin Herman from the Social Media Community of Practice about: What DigitalGov Search is How it integrates social image and video search How search analytics can help social media managers better understand their customers’ needs If you weren’t able to join us, you can download the slides or view the 30 minute webinar on YouTube.
Recently, I was designing new outreach materials and needed a way to connect this offline collateral with my agency’s digital content. Using a QR (or Quick Response) code immediately came to mind, followed by the question, “Are QR codes still relevant?” Opinions differ on their utility and I couldn’t find any objective data on how often they were scanned by users. Even their inventor has doubts about their shelf life.
“Content is king” is a generally accepted truth for those of us who produce digital media. But once you have compelling content, how to best present it to your audience becomes the next challenge. In recent years, Web innovators started emphasizing the effectiveness of “digital storytelling,” or content focused on individual, human experiences using compelling and engaging formats to convey information. At the Department of State’s, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, we recently tried our hand at executing a digital storytelling effort employing rarely-used-in-government techniques to tell a story about cultural heritage, partnership, teamwork, and preservation.
Six months ago, we launched this DigitalGov.gov platform to support federal agencies in delivering 21st century digital services and information to the public. It seems a good time to share some of the thinking that went into the development of the platform, and what we’ve learned so far. Looking back, we knew we had great content for digital innovators. Here at the Center for Digital Government at GSA, we created the go-to references for federal agencies around Web, mobile, social media, challenges and prizes, and were growing API content.
Open government, open source, openness. These words are often used in talking about open data, but we sometimes forget that the root of all of this is an open community. Individuals working together to release government data and put it to use to help their neighbors and reach new personal goals. This sense of community in the open data field shows up in many places. I see it when people volunteer at the National Day of Civic Hacking, crowdsource data integrity with MapGive, or mentor with Girls Who Code.
Content is no longer limited to your .gov website. Social media accounts also contain a treasure trove of information relevant to your site’s visitors. Keeping that in mind, DigitalGov Search has worked to bring all your content, wherever it is, to your search results. Finding something you didn’t know you were looking for is the best form of discovery, so make sure there are ample opportunities to find your content in all its forms.
Reddit began in 2006 as an online bulletin board. Registered users post links to items on the Internet, start discussions and cast votes that control placement on the site. A simple structure and a live interview forum called AMA, (Ask Me Anything) helped make reddit a social media superstar. GSA has met with reddit to talk about the importance of federal-compatible Terms of Service. (Reddit prefers to work with each agency individually on a TOS amendment rather than creating a single universal TOS agreement.
Here at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, we recently announced two exciting new government-wide working group teams with the mission of helping us use social media in ways we haven’t explored before. We’re hoping to recruit federal employees who are eager to dive in and help us tackle two important topics: employee recognition and recruitment and hiring. The first team will work on building a government-wide digital recognition program.
As traffic to desktop .gov websites declines, how we publish our content increasingly matters. We need to meet people where they are as they seek information on the Internet. To do so, we need to adjust to the new world of mobile applications, social media, and instant answers provided by search engines. Freeing Content from Our Websites In this content sharing era, it is important to separate the content from how it appears on your site.
More than 100 digital engagement and open data managers from across government met with leaders in the private sector startup community August 7 at the White House for a summit on integrating our digital services with public participation to create more opportunities for innovation and tackle tougher challenges. The SocialGov Summit on Open Data Innovation was organized by the 700-member SocialGov Community and White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, launching a new inter-community initiative to apply combined open data, digital engagement, and innovative technologies to fields ranging from the Internet of Things and emergency management to modernization of the regulatory process.
Do you ever find yourself conducting unofficial smartphone research? Ever since my agency decided to develop a mobile app, I know I do. Luckily, new data from ComScore on the U.S. smartphone subscriber market share can help eliminate the guesswork. Here are a few of the key trends ComScore found in the U.S. smartphone industry for June 2014: 173 million people in the U.S. owned smartphones during the second quarter of 2014, up 4% since the previous quarter.
If you aren’t currently including email marketing in your digital outreach efforts, you’re missing out. Think about email marketing in the same way you think about tools like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and your website. It’s another digital platform that allows you to reach your customers and achieve your goals. Email marketing can be used in different ways, depending on your communications goals. You can build brand awareness. You can drive action from your subscribers to complete a task on your website.
We wanted to learn a little more about the Office of Women’s Health at FDA, where Alison Lemon, the SocialGov Community Knowledge Manager, works. So we sat down with Alison and learned about the interesting social media approach her office has taken, some of the thinking behind their strategy and what she sees as the future of social media in government. You can also follow her office’s work @FDAWomen.
If you haven’t heard about @congressedits yet, it’s a Twitter bot that was recently created to tweet out every anonymous edit made to Wikipedia from Congressional IP addresses. So, anyone editing articles on Wikipedia without logging in, and doing this while on Congressional Internet access, will have those changes tweeted (like this). Some of these have been productive and some embarrassing, but, in the past, some edits from Congress have been described on Wikipedia as politically motivated and even libelous.
Recently, I had the pleasure of speaking (in my own capacity) before the Council for Inspectors General for Integrity and Efficiency Public Affairs Officers (CIGIE-PAO) task force about branding. The invitation came by way of a colleague I greatly respect. Bridget Serchak is currently Chief of Public Affairs for the Department of Defense Inspector General and the group’s co-founder. She explained to me that the purpose of the CIGIE PAO is “to try to raise awareness of the role and function of IGs across government so that all federal employees in particular, but also our Hill constituencies and good government groups understand what IGs do and don’t do.
We often think of social media as a way to expand our audience, but some public health departments are using it as a new tool for tracking outbreaks of salmonella, e. coli, and other foodborne illnesses. It’s a familiar story: A nice meal out results in days of gastrointestinal discomfort when you realize only too late that the clams were a mistake. You may post to your facebook page and tag where you were, but chances are you never even send a to your local public health department.
Major mobile milestones in May—try saying that three times! A new mobile usage report from ComScore revealed two significant shifts to mobile in May: total time spent on digital media and time spent on apps. Here are a few highlights from the report: Mobile platforms—smartphones and tablets—accounted for 60% of total time spent on digital media, up from 50% a year ago. Mobile apps accounted for more than half (51%) of all time spent on digital media, up from 43% a year ago.
The Art of Social Media by mkhmarketing CC BY 2.0 The more public information is digitized, the more it lands on or sprouts from social media channels. This is why there needs to be a greater level of awareness and consideration for those who can benefit most from that information—people with disabilities—since they have the least access to it. Like many websites, social media platforms present some of the greatest barriers in digital accessibility.
The Federal #SocialGov Community, a collective of almost 700 digital engagement managers from more than 120 government agencies, marked the 2nd anniversary of our program by releasing a suite of new collaborative services to help us better work together and with partners in the private sector to share resources and build public services of the 21st century. The online event, U.S. Federal SocialGov: 2 years of Smashing Silos + Elevating Citizen Services, focused on how collaborative, open participation in the development process will help public services better tackle performance analysis, policy development, accessibility for persons with disabilities, international partnerships and global digital engagement support.
The Web now contains over 1.51 billion pages of content, according to WorldWideWebSize.com. That’s a lot of reading material, and a lot of content competing with yours for attention. People won’t waste time (even a few seconds) on an article that doesn’t matter to them in some way—not when there are so many other interesting things to read on the Web. But what makes something “tweet-worthy?” What can you do to capture your audience’s attention and entice them to share broadly in their networks?
Now that Thunderclap has been approved for government use for nearly a year, we checked in with two agencies that have successfully used the crowd-speaking tool to rally their supporters and amplify their messages. In case you missed it, you can replay the webinar. What Makes a Thunderclap? Nicholas Garlow, public affairs specialist with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) used Thunderclap to support Open Enrollment Season for Healthcare.
Mobile devices are moving closer to the center of the social universe, according to this Sproutsocial article. Platforms like Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter are overwhelmingly used on the go. Comscore predicts that there will be increasing monetization via social in the coming years. In the banking industry, where data shows many people have stopped going to brick and mortar banks, tying mobile and social together is critical. Organizations are increasingly adopting a SoLoMo approach in which they leverage the interplay between social, local and mobile.
You’ve probably noticed the trend toward more visual content being shared across social platforms—pictures, infographics and how-to videos seem to be popping up everywhere. We certainly noticed that trend across several government social media properties, so when USA.gov was preparing to launch our campaign introducing the 2014 Consumer Action Handbook (CAH), we wanted to create highly-visual social content to see how it would do in comparison to standard text and link social content.
When you think about your community, you may think about your neighborhood, your city, your office or the organizations and activities you’re involved in. The Peace Corps has many of the characteristics of a community, however our reach spans the entire globe. Because we need to regularly connect with national and international audiences, Peace Corps actively explores new and cost-efficient tools to help us achieve communication goals. Fortunately for us, the digital age has given federal agencies the resources to do exactly that.
Imagine a world where your mobile device delivers ads for goods and services within 100 yards of your location. According to Thinknear, a leader in targeted mobile advertising, that future may soon be a reality. Here’s what Thinknear found when measuring the accuracy of location data used in mobile advertising: 67% of ad inventory comes with latitude and longitude information compared to 10% a few years ago 34% of mobile impressions are accurate within 100 meters; 9% are between 100 meters and 1000 meters; and 30% are between 1,000 meters and 10,000 meters 20% of mobile location-based ad inventory is outside 10,000 meters—more than six miles off target Mobile marketers aren’t the only ones who can benefit from accurate location data.
As highlighted in this Trends on Tuesday post, time spent on mobile phones—about 3 hours per day—has surpassed that of daily PC usage. This yields a significant opportunity for consumer interaction with federal agencies’ mobile apps, not just websites, and social media outlets. To take advantage of new opportunities for consumer interaction, federal agencies are implementing social media as part of their mobile products. We surveyed the mobile products submitted to the Federal Apps Registry to see how agencies are incorporating social media into their mobile products.
Facebook is now the first social media platform to start verifying all federal government pages with their signature blue checkmark using the Federal Social Media Registry API. The Federal Social Media Registry provides the singular source that allows social media platforms to quickly collect real government accounts—emphasizing the critical need to ensure the trust, quality and security of citizen engagement. When the public searches for the new Central Intelligence Agency Facebook account, many different accounts pop up—but only one of them is managed by the actual CIA.
As government innovators, we work to improve public services every day. In essence we are already in a public private partnership. But how can your agency capitalize on existing public private partnerships to engage citizens and enhance services? Four panelists from across government shared their public private partnerships success stories at the DigitalGov Citizen Services Summit last Friday. The three other panels were on performance analysis, customer service across channels, and inter-agency work.
During the DigitalGov Citizen Services Summit last Friday, customer service experts from across government came together on a panel to share what customer service means to them and their organization and specific ways they leverage it. The other panels were on performance analysis, public private partnerships, and inter-agency work. The panelists spoke about the strategies they use to integrate multi-channel customer service and the organizational barriers they’ve encountered. The panelists acknowledged that while the the government, as a whole, has room for improvement in providing truly integrated cross-channel customer service, leadership is beginning to recognize the importance and cost-savings, not to mention happy customers, it brings.
Are you measuring Twitter followers and press release downloads without any clue as to what people are doing with your agency’s products and information? Or do you not even know what to measure, never mind whether that measurement would be meaningful? Fear not, fair government communicator—there is hope! On May 15, top government communication measurement experts from the U.S., U.K., and Canada presented on Evaluating the Effectiveness of Government Digital Communications via DigitalGov University.
At the DigitalGov Citizen Services Summit last Friday, Jacob Parcell, Manager, Mobile Programs at the General Services Administration led a panel on the challenges and benefits of Inter-Agency work. The other panels were on performance analysis, customer service across channels, and public private partnerships. “The challenges are real,” said Parcell, who quoted President Obama’s famous salmon quandary: “The Interior Department is in charge of salmon while they’re in fresh water, but the Commerce Department handles them when they’re in saltwater,” Obama said.
At the DigitalGov Citizen Services Summit last Friday, more than 200 innovators across government and industry came together to share how digital services can improve citizen services and reduce cost. Four panels convened to share information on performance analysis, customer service across channels, public private partnerships and inter-agency work. We have a recap of the Performance Analysis Panel below. How do you show and track performance in 21st century digital government?
We had a GREAT DigitalGov Citizen Services Summit today. There were more than 200 digital innovators from across government and industry working to build the 21st century government the public expects. The four panels focused on performance analysis, customer service across channels, inter-agency work, and public private partnerships. Here’s what you missed in a short highlight video. [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EIWwnomPxo4&w=600]
On Friday, we made a big change over on the USA.gov blog—we turned off the ability for people to comment on our posts. Now before you all start looking at me like I have five heads and wondering what Koolaid I’m drinking, let me explain our reasoning. We’ve had comments on blog.usa.gov since it launched in March of 2011, and our previous blog—GovGab—always had commenting too. I mean, commenting was one of the things that made a blog different from a regular old website right?
Have a DigitalGov success?—published an API? Got buy-in from leadership? Changed a part of your customer-service paradigm? Developed a cool dashboard? Got the app out the door? Heck! Have you prototyped a wearable, drivable or flyable? Have a DigitalGov opinion?—think we should be focusing more or less on something? Have an idea on how to improve development? Want to share your digital gov mantra? Internet of things? You are doing and thinking a lot, and we have a place for a few of you smarties to share with other agencies.
Last week, we discussed National Women’s Health Week (NWHW) as an example of a coordinated campaign that used digital tools. Social media has made building campaigns easier by enabling us to quickly reach out to groups with similar missions as well as to engage with citizens. Here are the highlights from the webinar and some initial metrics, and in case you missed it, you can replay the webinar here.
We won’t build the government of the 21st century by drawing within the lines. We don’t have to tell you the hard work of building a digital government doesn’t exist in a vacuum or a bubble. Show us social media without mobile, Web without data and user experience without APIs. You can’t? That’s right—in reality, digital government intersects and cuts across boundaries every day in order to deliver the digital goods.
Some people think LinkedIn is only for active job seekers. Although many of LinkedIn’s 300,000,000+ registered members fit that profile, LinkedIn is also chock-full of passive job seekers—those who have a job but are interested in learning about a new opportunity. Either way, LinkedIn is a valuable tool that provides recruiters with a large database of qualified candidates. In 2012, Peace Corps recognized that long gone were the days of the rolodex and “post and pray” approach, and that it was time to reach job seekers on their preferred engagement platform.
Looking for a training manual on how to use Google Analytics for your agency? Here’s your answer. I released a second edition of my Google Analytics for Government training manual. Download your copy today (PDF, 4.94 MB, 65 pages, May 2014) and be sure to check out my other resources on creating awesome Web analytics reports. Excerpt from Google Analytics for Government, Second Edition Welcome to the Second Edition of Google Analytics for Government Two years ago when I set out to write a manual on using Google Analytics to improve government websites, I never imagined how far this manual would travel.
Imagine this: You just found a great online tool that can help you do your federal job 100% better. You’re all ready to download it and start conquering the world when someone asks, “Have you checked the Terms of Service?” You’re not sure what they’re talking about, what a Terms of Service is, or why you need one. Let’s answer this and more in our Terms of Service Flowchart (click the image to the right to download your own PDF copy of this chart for reference) and our Terms of Service FAQ:
On Thursday, July 17, the FCC’s Accessibility and Innovation Initiative will host a public event called “Accessing Social Media.” The purpose is to promote collaborative, cross-sector problem-solving on how to produce and consume accessible social media, considering authoring tools, client apps, and best practices for various disability constituencies. The event will be held in the Commission Meeting Room at FCC headquarters and will include panels of industry, consumer, and government representatives.
Smartphones, tablets, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, not to mention your agency’s desktop website, are all clamoring for information, but sliced and diced in different ways. How can you make your content adaptive for efficient delivery to all of these mediums? Structured content and open content models can help you create content that is platform-agnostic, format-free, and device-independent. We’ve created two open and structured content models that we want you to use and adapt.
This week the SocialGov Community took the step of recruiting a Digital Engagement Knowledge Manager, and I am excited to join the team through the innovative new Open Opportunities Program. At this point, though, you may be asking—is there really so much information out there that it needs to be managed? Yes! The truth is that the same challenges pop up all across government, and the same questions are asked over and over.
AIDS.gov convenes and is guided by the Federal HIV/AIDS Web Council. The Council includes Web/new media leads, subject matter experts, and communication leads representing HIV programs across the U.S. government. Together we use new media to promote federal programs, policies and resources related to HIV. In March, members heard from four key federal leaders about how they are using technology to reach the goals of their programs. Below we provide highlights from each speaker’s remarks.
At the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) we use sharing buttons on our website to help people share content from web pages with their colleagues and friends. With one click, a user can post a page’s link to popular social networking sites or send it via email. The article To Use Social Sharing Buttons or Not looks at some ways that social sharing buttons are actually used. Here’s a look at what works for us.
Social Media tools, trends and algorithms come and go, but federal managers continue to see improvements in their digital engagement initiatives when they put citizens at the center of their programs. It’s common to hear that government social media lags behind the private sector especially when held to standards that don’t consider government’s unique needs and goals. Yet, even as marketers call for exit strategies from some platforms, many of our agencies see an increase in their performance even without paid promotions because of effective engagement strategies.
On this Earth Day, federal social media managers are hard at work, sharing and promoting what government and citizens can do to protect the environment. We’ve compiled a sample of the activities that also show how different agencies are using different social media tools in support of a common goal. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been leading the way all month, hosting Twitter chats every Tuesday at 2pm EDT, with the hashtag #ActOnClimate.
The Internet of Things, a concept approaching reality, is best described as objects (think appliance, trees, etc.) in the world equipped with identifying devices or machine-readable identifiers that make them connected to the Web. This handy infographic charts the history and development of the idea and perhaps this washing machine could be a roadmap to the future. The fourth annual Internet of Things Dayis Wednesday, April 9th. It was created by the Internet of Things Councilto encourage interested people around the world to connect by hosting and attending meetups, hackathons, and spending time with others to help jump-start important categories of conversation and collaboration around this technology.
Earlier this month, stock photo giant Getty Images launched an embedded photo viewer, that permits sharing millions of its’ copyrighted images for free. The news generated headlines and questions about whether it’s okay for government content producers to use the tool. From Getty’s perspective, the answer is yes. The company’s main restriction is that the images be used for editorial, non-commercial purposes and government content meets this criteria.
For the last several years the National Weather Service has been rolling out social media accounts for all of their 122 field offices. Each office now has a Facebook page, Twitter handle and YouTube account to better communicate our life saving messages to the public. As these accounts were being rolled the NWS did some basic training on how to use Facebook and Twitter, but it soon became clear that more in-depth training was needed to help NWS forecasters best use their new social media platforms.
The federal government can now unlock the collaborative “genius” of citizens and communities to make public services easier to access and understand with a new free social media platform launched by GSA today at the Federal #SocialGov Summit on Entrepreneurship and Small Business. News Genius, an annotation wiki based on Rap Genius now featuring federal-friendly Terms of Service, allows users to enhance policies, regulations and other documents with in-depth explanations, background information and paths to more resources.
Due to recent news feed changes, Facebook engagement is down nearly 50% since October for brand pages and is predicted to go lower, according to Social@Ogilvy. As a result federal agencies are continually monitoring the performance of their pages and diversifying their strategies. We talked to members of the Social Media Community of Practice for their best tips to help your agency leverage its Facebook presence. Scott Horvath is the Bureau Social Media Lead, Office of Communications and Publishing at the U.
Social Media Community of Practice developed a set of baseline social media metrics to help you assess whether your efforts are achieving the results you want. How do you take the next step and present your data in a way that tells a comprehensive story and grabs your stakeholders’ attention? Sarah Kaczmarek, from GAO, developed an infographic template to help you bring together your data in one amazing report. You can also use the template to help you present answers to seven key questions about your social media channels:
Federal agencies are currently hard at work developing revised Open Government Plans—blueprints that are published every two years, highlighting agency progress towards making their work more transparent, participatory, and collaborative, and outlining new open government commitments going forward. This iterative, biennial process grew out of the December 2009 Open Government Directive issued by the Office of Management and Budget, which instructed executive departments and agencies to take specific actions to incorporate the principles of openness set forth in the President’s Memorandum on Transparency and Open Government, which he signed on his first full day in office.
Collecting visitor, engagement, and traffic data for your digital channels is nothing new. By this time, you have a lot of data about your website. How do you use and present that data to make meaningful recommendations? How do you use the data to tell a story and grab your stakeholders’ attention? Sarah Kaczmarek, from GAO, has worked with GSA on a series of webinars to answer these questions.
All of us want to improve the content and information we provide to the public, but we’re intimidated by where to start: Does our website provide clear content? Is the best information hidden on pages a few layers down? What should we tweet about this month? What are customers saying about our information? The best source of this information is a resource right in your agency–your agency’s Contact Center.
NOAA National Weather Service Meteorologist Twitter Use Shows that All Government Employees are Communicators
During the run up to a recent winter storm, Twitter was aflutter with reports of 20-30 inches of snow falling across wide swaths of the Midwest. Unfortunately for snow lovers, those rumors were highly speculative and unfounded. That didn’t stop members of the public from contacting their local National Weather Service (NWS) Weather Forecast Office (WFO) with questions about the storm, so NWS Meteorologist Mike Ryan from the Indianapolis WFO used his office’s Twitter account to inform the public that “Rumors of 20-30″ of #snow are EXTREMELY premature & improbable and not supported by fcst model data at this time.
When HHS’s Katie Gorscak was looking for a way to share Stopbullying.gov’s information with teenagers, she looked at her options on social media. New reports seem to come out regularly talking about how teens are fleeing “traditional” social media sites, but Gorscak knew her target audience made up the power user base of the social-blogging platform Tumblr. Tumblr combines parts of traditional blogging with added social sharing features to help agencies meet their missions, drive engagement and increase brand recognition.
There’s no way to sugar-coat it. It’s that time again. Tax time. And just in (tax)time, the Internal Revenue Service has updated its handy IRS2Go Mobile App for iPhone/iTouch and Android phones. The 2014 version of the app offers a more elegant and streamlined visual experience — and a few convenient new features including: The Refund Status tab now has a “status tracker” for users to see the status of their tax returns.
If the silos and barriers that separated our programs are smashed, what could we do to realize the full potential of innovation in public service? Whether you’re a citizen who needs better access to services, an entrepreneur looking to spark innovation in the marketplace, or a public servant who wants to get your mission done more effectively and efficiently — there have never been more opportunities to achieve these through social media in government.
It’s one of the most important words to a federal social media account manager and knowing who to talk to can sometimes make or break a communications campaign. The idea of making sure your social media accounts are reaching key constituents and members of the general public certainly isn’t new. DigitalGov University (DGU) offers a variety of webinars and training seminar regarding digital media and citizen engagement. But what about engaging other federal agencies?
Federal workers need to know more in social media than just how to send a tweet. Among other things, you also need to manage multiple accounts across platforms and languages; measure and report performance; and archive posts and comments for the public record. We dispelled the notion that technology limits agencies from tackling these challenges by highlighting how agencies can achieve all these in one dashboard — and in the process hope it opened eyes to all the possibilities available to government.
It’s been a busy few months negotiating Terms of Service on behalf of the federal government, and we’re happy to announce CrowdHall and Tint are now available and that the Tumblr agreement has been updated for the first time in almost 2 years.CrowdHall logo CrowdHall allows you to open an online town hall in a short amount of time, in order to host public or private Q&A sessions between a large number of people and up to five hosts.
Federal agencies continue to look for better ways to combine the benefits of online engagement and in-person action — Instameets can achieve this strategic goal by using Instagram with meetups to amplify the vision of your mission. Katie Harbath, global lead for politics and government engagement at Facebook, joined us at DigitalGov University for a webinar to share with agencies how they can plan Instameets, and some of the nuts and bolts of managing Instagram.
A recent FedTech Magazine article asked, “When There Are No Barriers to Technology, How Can the Government Innovate?” We thought we’d take up the challenge and let you know how government uses innovations from digital communities to grow a social media education and training program that provides more opportunities than ever for agencies to share, learn and measurably improve our programs for citizens. And by more we mean almost four times more with the same resources.
On January 16th, the Federal Communicators Network gathered at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). The topic of the day was Driving Employee Engagement through a Social Intranet, and Kelly Osborn, NARA’s community manager for the Internal Collaboration Network (ICN) was the expert speaker. Kelly has been the driving force behind the project from the very beginning and gave a talk full of helpful tips, best practices, and insightful anecdotes on setting up the intranet at NARA.
According to the IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark report, overall 4th quarter online sales were up 10.3% year over year. Here were some of the key drivers: • Mobile Traffic and Sales: Mobile traffic soared, accounting for nearly 35 percent of all online traffic, up 40 percent compared to the fourth quarter of 2012. • Smartphones Browse, Tablets Buy: Smartphones drove 21.3 percent of all online traffic, making it the browsing device of choice.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is taking the well-known slogan, “See something, say something,”__ to the crowd. Consider it more “See something, submit something.” Harnessing the power of citizen intelligence to understand and respond to disasters, FEMA in late 2013 launched a new feature in its iOS/Android app that crowd-sources photos of disasters and extreme events. “Disaster Reporter” enables people to upload photos of disaster scenes with short captions, which, after a quick vetting process, are then plotted by location on an interactive map.
This infographic from Light Reading addresses recent trends in mobile data use. We are struck by how much data was transferred via a WiFi connection vs. cellular. People are using WiFi connections way more than cellular ones. Some other quick highlights: In Q2 of 2013, 4x as much data was transferred over a WiFi connection vs. Cellular connection. Top 5 States with WiFi Bandwidth are VA, DE, NJ, MA, and NH.
The difference between only distributing an online press release and opening up the benefits from a blogging community can be found in how your agency encourages and manages comments and engagement. An easily-referenced comment policy lets authors and contributors know what your agency’s guidelines are in order to maintain an open, safe collaboration space. For example, here is a recently updated blog comment policy: “In order to foster an engaging digital environment, we reserve the right to restrict comments that are generally understood as any of the following:
It was a very good year, as Frank Sinatra sang, in the field of social media for the federal government. Advances were made not only in the technologies applied by agencies, but also the policies and strategies that unlock their potential to improve services and reduce costs. I’d like to share with you just some of the programs that made 2013 a very good year for the SocialGov community, what the challenges are that we’ll face in the coming year, and also give you insight into what to expect in 2014 as we overcome those emerging challenges together with you.
_(This is the next installment of an ongoing series charting the programs, events and people that make the emerging field of social media and data in government an exciting place to serve the public. Agencies are encouraged to submit their own stories for this travelogue of digital innovation.)_ From where I sit, there’s no better way to wrap up a great year than by taking a look at the future of emerging digital government with the #Socialgov Community.
In this time of tight travel budgets, not everyone can make it to every event or conference they’d like to attend. Luckily, Twitter has made it easier to share events through live tweeting. Live tweeting is using Twitter to report on an event, speech, or presentation as it is happening. When done right, live tweeting can help followers feel like they’re actually a part of the event.
Facebook announced they are refining their algorithm this week to better identify and promote quality news content. This can and will affect your strategic performance, but what exactly makes “quality” content and how can your agency ensure they are on the winning side of this adjustment? We talked with Facebook about the changes, and the bottom line line is that these improvements will make it harder for organizations to clutter news feeds and cheat their way to engagement metrics.
Does your agency host events, organize meet-ups, or provide training and professional development? Then Eventbrite can help you manage the process more easily and efficiently. Eventbrite is the latest tool with a federal-compatible Terms of Service. Eventbrite is an online ticketing service that allows event organizers to plan, set up registration or ticket sales and promote events and publish them across Facebook, Twitter and other social-networking tools directly from the site’s interface.
In July 2013, U.S. Forest Service fisheries biologist Pete Schneider launched a YouTube Live video event from the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center in Alaska. The goal of the project was to not only deliver a reliable 2-month long, 24/7, live video stream where an international audience could witness spawning Sockeye salmon, hungry Dolly Varden, cunning Cutthroat, and schools of disorientated Coho fry, but to also use the platform as way to collaborate and converse with viewers.
Last week, Twitter introduced media.twitter.com featuring best practices and success stories to help government leverage the power of Twitter. Many best practices were covered including: How to break the news with Twitter Alerts How to get the most from Twitter Town Halls, and Why live tweeting is important Twitter says: As Twitter’s role in the media world continues to grow and evolve, we wanted to create a place where people and companies from the worlds of TV, sports, journalism, government, music, faith and nonprofits could have self-service access to ways to increase their impact in the global town square.
While we think about the audience, we don’t often map out the experience we want them to have when using our services. This is critical information for the design. In other cases, we may not have the data to analyze existing customers’ needs–or worse–may not consider who the potential customers are. Making decisions on a limited customer base can lead to services p/s that don’t meet the overall needs.
A public prize spurred Charles Lindbergh tofly across the Atlantic, and this week social media managers across government will help a new generation of prize competitions take flight. These sessions aren’t just for social media managers who have held a challenge or are planning one — they are for any social media manager who wants to learn how strategy and performance analysis can be used to support emerging technology programs within their agencies.
Mobile Future recently released this infographic about the proliferation of connected devices. Among the key data points: Today, there are 10 billion connected devices. By 2020, data from connected devices will more than double all global Internet traffic in 2012. Traffic from connected devices will grow 24 times in just five years. Global connected device revenue is $200 billion now and could grow to $1.2 trillion in 2020. In the future, virtually everything we make will be able to connect to the Internet.
A report by the PEW Research Center, 12 trends for shaping digital news, looks at how the internet and digital devices are changing news consumption habits. While half of all Americans still prefer to get their news from television and print, younger Americans cite the Internet as their main source for national and international news. Findings from the report include: 50% of the public now cites the internet as a main source for national and international news 71% of those 18-29 cite the internet as a main news source 19% of Americans saw news on a social network “yesterday” in 2012 64% of tablet owners and 62% of smartphone owners said they got news on their devices in 2012 31% of tablet news users said that they spent more time with news since getting their device, and 34% of the Twitter discourse about Hurricane Sandy was news and information The report also cites ‘grazing’ the news has become more popular with younger adults and online readers who get their news when they want on mobile devices compared to older adults who get their news at regular times.
One way to leverage Twitter, beyond the basics of sending messages and engaging in dialogue, is to organize a Town Hall discussion, or Twitter chat. New guidance on preparing a live chat is now available, and we need your agencies to contribute your own policies and experiences to make it complete. So let’s start by identifying the key ingredients to most effectively engage with citizens and make your Twitter Town Hall a success.
A Twitter town hall, or Twitter chat, is an event where agencies invite public engagement for a scheduled time period during which users can ask questions or find out more information about a topic via Twitter, much like a webinar. The questions are tagged with a pre-designated hashtag, and the agency responds to questions using the hashtag, follows-up via a blog post, or uses another digital means of meaningfully responding to the engagements.
(This is the second installment of an ongoing series charting the programs, events and people that make the emerging field of social media and data in government From where I sit, I think we just had a great week in #socialgov. From a sold-out international forum that demonstrated how we can use free tools to host a world-class event, to milestones in the Defense community and new colleagues in Italy, there are no shortage of great things happening in federal social media — and it will only get better next week.
As non-lawyers peering into the legal world, be advised this post is not official legal advice from the Office of General Counsel. These are our impressions and what we took away from the Legal Learning Series session Social Media – Privacy, Records and Litigation. Do you collect comments and post photos on your agency social media accounts and websites? If so, are you aware that much of that content could possibly be considered personally identifiable information (PII)?
(This is the first installment of an ongoing series charting the programs, events and people that make the emerging field of social media and data in government an exciting place to serve the public. Agencies are encouraged to submit their own stories for this travelogue of digital innovation.) From where I sit, I think we recently had the best week in #socialgov yet. Between the Library of Congress’ new Innovation Talks, the chance to learn from Saudi Arabian digital artists from halfway around the world, and now looking forward to a groundbreaking new event with Social Media Club DC, whatever comes to mind that week is hard to beat — and it will only get better next week.
A sure way to drive employees crazy is to never share what executives discuss or decide until a new mandate lands on the organization’s collective head. While senior leaders should expect some privacy in decision-making and debate, they should also expect to openly hold themselves accountable and to make sure their employees know where the organization is headed. One way to offer that clear accountability and communication is by keeping people apprised of what happens in important executive meetings, even as those meetings are happening.
A few weeks ago, the Go.USA.gov URL shortener introduced several new features to improve the user experience. Go.USA.gov now offers users faster speeds and downloadable metric information about their links. The service, which launched in 2009, gives government agencies the ability to provide trustworthy shortened links to their audience. Just a few weeks ago, we finished completely re-engineering the back-end of the site to fix the slow speeds. Additionally, the back-end improvements have allowed us to re-enable the CSV export function that was taken offline back in 2010.
The social media landscape changes every day, and viral content heralds trends to come. Government must learn to adapt in order to deliver more effective and efficient services for citizens. At this SocialGov Summit we explored the world of Viral Government and continue our efforts to bring the most advanced capabilities and strategies to agencies’ missions. Take a look at the presentation from TSA’s blogger Bob on how they respond to viral content and make their content interesting and learn how you can do the same.
Thunderclap is the latest social media and crowd-sourcing platform available to federal agencies to better engage with the public, with a newly negotiated government-compatible Terms of Service (TOS) agreement. GSA collaborated with Thunderclap to negotiate the amended terms, which brings the total number of tools with federal-compatible agreements to 66. Social media is an easy way to say something. But sometimes it’s a difficult way to be heard, with the vast amount of content being shared every day.
Guest post by Curtis Robert Burns, better known as Blogger Bob, at the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). As a blogger for TSA I believe moderating blog comments always comes down to an understanding of your employer’s mission, audience, and your specific privacy and comment policy, but in this post, I’m going to go over a few of the more common questions people ask about the TSA blog about how blogs are moderated.
Instagram is the latest mobile and social media tool available to federal, state and local governments to better engage with the public, with a newly negotiated government-compatible Terms of Service (TOS) agreement. GSA collaborated with Instagram to negotiate the amended terms, which brings the total number of tools with federal-compatible agreements to 65. Instagram is a free online photo-sharing, video-sharing and social networking service that allows its users to take pictures and videos, apply digital filters to them, and share them on a variety of social networking services, such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Flickr.
USA.gov and GobiernoUSA.gov have been engaging with the public on social media long before Mayor Cory Booker underscored the need at this year’s SXSW. In January 2010, we began to respond to questions and comments on our Facebook and Twitter accounts. We never advertised the service, but people naturally had questions for the government and we answered — to the tune of more than 300 questions in 2010. Not long after we started answering questions, it became clear that our two-person pilot program wasn’t robust enough to keep up with demand, so we instituted a more formal, but flexible system.
Guest post by Mario Damiani, Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) at the Department of Labor. ODEP spearheads the Social Media Accessibility Working Group within the Federal Social Media Community of Practice. The working group recently released a toolkit for agencies to make their content more accessible for citizens with disabilities, including recommendations from agencies across the federal government and collaborators in Australia. As a representative of the Office of Disability Employment Policy at the Department of Labor, I’ve had the privilege of visiting with numerous individuals and organizations to promote the value of social media accessibility.
Are you a small or even one-deep government social media team who wonders how with limited resources you can still deliver the program citizens need? Do you have a larger team but still want to know how you can roll up your sleeves and make a change? If either of these or anything in between is you, then take a look at the webinar on how to take your limited social media program from “rags to riches.
YouTube recently upgraded to the new One Channel design. The new design emphasizes responsive layouts for mobile devices, tablets, desktops and laptops, and TVs. A single banner on a white background replaces a customizable background and color scheme. YouTube recommends using a single 2560 x 1440 px image that fits its template. The featured video has been replaced by a Channel trailer for non-subscribers. Think of it as a short video that welcomes people to your Channel and tells them what it is about and why they should subscribe.
Techcrunch. com reports Mary Meeker’s much anticipated annual Internet Trends report released at the D11 Conference last week shows astounding growth regarding use of smartphones and tablets. Among the highlights; Mobile Internet users have reached 1.5 billion, up from 1.1 billion a year ago, a 30% increase The number of smartphones is up to 5 billion mobile phones worldwide Mobile usage is now 15% of all Internet traffic, up 50% from 10% the year before Tablet shipments outpaced desktop and notebook shipments 3 years after being introduced There seems to be a shift from smartphones and tablets to other types of mobile enabled devices that Meeker is calling Wearables, Drivables, Flyables and Scannables See the complete slideshare for more Government mobile strategists who pay attention to Meeker’s stats will likely stay ahead of the curve regarding the expected continuing exponential growth in mobile usage, devices and applications and keep citizens and stakeholders engaged on whatever device they use.
To enhance security, Twitter now offers two-step verification. The release of the new feature follows several high-profile account breaches – including a false tweet sent from the Associated Press’s Twitter account in April. If you chose to enable the two-step verification feature, Twitter sends a text message with a unique code to a cell phone that must be entered to continue the login process. This extra step is simple and provides another important layer of protection for your account.
The Apple iTunes App store is the only marketplace for downloading apps for the Apple platform. In order to put apps in the iTunes store, agencies or their contractors have signed agreements with Apple to use Apple Software to produce mobile apps that can later be distributed to the public, free of charge. The information included in this article is based on the experiences provided by members of the MobileGov Community of Practice.
In helping support the social media team at the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), we have been hosting monthly Twitter Chats since March 2012. The topics of these chats have covered a wide variety of complementary health approaches including: Yoga Meditation Acupuncture Dietary supplements Over the past six months, our Twitter Chat program has evolved to include partnerships with other NIH Institutes and Centers on topics that overlap with their research portfolios.
[Editor’s note: Please watch the Jan. 15 , 2015, webinar onHow Government Can Prepare for and Respond to Social Media Hacks. on our Youtube channel] The hacking of an Associated Press news account on Twitter this week, and its fallout, underscored the need for agencies to prepare for similar obstacles. Especially in public service, misinformation from rogue accounts can create damaging impact. Following these steps can help you mitigate the risk of not only rogue posts from your own account, but also respond to rogue posts from outside accounts that could harm your mission.
Social media is transforming how government engages with citizens and how it delivers service. Agencies are using social media to share information and deliver service more quickly and effectively than ever before. Increasingly, these tools are also being used for predictive and sentiment analysis—using the vast amount of real-time data from these social platforms to predict emerging trends and respond to them quickly (referred to as “social data”).
The recent #SocialGov Summit on accessibility of government social media raised emerging issues faced by agencies in their effort to make sure the information citizens need is communicated to them when and how they need it. For many, the most eye opening exercise was simply to hear their tweets read back to them through an iPhone VoiceOver screen reader, experiencing firsthand how vision-impaired citizens receive their content. While we’ll share more from the summit in an extended post, here are some initial key takeaways from among the hundred participants:
“Dark Social” media took the web by storm this week, unveiling to many the shadows in measuring your social media impact. This accounts for the majority of your traffic and yet lives untraced where standard metrics fear to tread (or simply cannot) — places like email and instant messaging. Alexis Madrigal, senior editor of The Atlantic, proposed last week in a post: “The sharing you see on sites like Facebook and Twitter is the tip of the ‘social’ iceberg.
Today at the#SocialGov Summit for Social Media Week DC, we’ll showcase two new initiatives for citizens, agencies and small businesses that help unlock the full potential of social data for the next generation of government services and engagement. Leading innovators in government will also be on hand to show how social data is empowering them to improve federal programs. The first initiative is the release of new baseline social media metrics for federal agencies “Social Media Metrics for Federal Agencies”), developed by the Federal Social Media Community of Practice.