Social Media

The Data Briefing: How to Build a Chatbot in a Weekend

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.

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HIV.gov’s 6 Ways to Stay Social Media Savvy

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.

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By the Numbers: Why Video Is Effective

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.

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Making World War I Relevant Today: Are WWI Propaganda Posters the Original Meme?

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.

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The Data Briefing: The Arrival of Generation Z into the Federal Government. And Generation A?

In the last national election, the earliest born members of Generation Z voted for the first time. In 2019, the American workforce will see the influx of tens of millions of Gen Zers who, according to some researchers, will be a stark contrast to the Millennials that will make the largest part of the 2020 workforce. According to one researcher’s study of Gen Z, this generational group has seven distinguishing traits:

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How Facebook Live Increased Reach and Engagement of Scientific Lectures at NIH

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.

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Build Your Audience by Hosting a Twitter Chat

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.

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Federal Pilot to Integrate Public Services Into Intelligent Personal Assistants

The demand for more automated, self-service access to United States public services, when and where citizens need them, grows each day—and so do advances in the consumer technologies like Intelligent Personal Assistants designed to meet those challenges. The U.S. General Services Administration’s (GSA) Emerging Citizen Technology program, part of the Technology Transformation Service’s Innovation Portfolio, launched an open-sourced pilot to guide dozens of federal programs to make public service information available to consumer Intelligent Personal Assistants (IPAs) for the home and office, such as Amazon Alexa, Microsoft Cortana, Google Assistant, and Facebook Messenger.

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Steps Towards SEO: Meta Descriptions on MedlinePlus

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.

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How to Tell the World War I Story: Make it Personal

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.

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Becoming an Influencer with Your Audience: Quality vs. Quantity of Content

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.

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DigitalGov University in Review: 2016 Training Trends

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.

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In a Marketing Minute: Connecting Teams, Promotions, and Ideas

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.

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Understanding Twitter Quality Filters for Content Strategy

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.

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Webinar Recap: Social Media + External Affairs = Outreach Success

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.

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Why World War I Matters for Your Agency

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.

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The Digital Transition: How the Presidential Transition Works in the Social Media Age

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).

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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.

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Social Media Data Deep Dive: Turning Findings into Action

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.

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9 Reasons Your Infographics Might Be Too Big

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.

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GSA launches new AI, Virtual Reality, and Authentication Programs

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.

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The Essentials of an Editorial Calendar

Anyone engaged in content marketing or content production probably owns a robust editorial calendar. A calendar that is quickly updated, helps keep deadlines and is flexible can serve as a helpful blueprint of your content activities for the year. At USAGov we cover a lot of topics and partner with many agencies. Having an editorial calendar has helped us in a variety of ways, from staying on top of deadlines and deliverables, to giving us the space to focus on the topics that resonate best with our audiences.

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Your First Thoughts on the Social Media Strategy

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.

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The New Vote.gov: Leaner, Faster and Multi-Lingual

One year ago this week, we launched vote.gov (also known as vote.usa.gov). It’s a concise and simple site with a single mission: direct citizens through the voter registration process as quickly as possible. It was created by a joint team of USA.gov staffers and Presidential Innovation Fellows, all of whom work within the General Services Administration (GSA). Did it work? Yes. In fact, it worked so well that Facebook made it the destination for their 2016 voter registration drive.

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Webinar Recap: Snaps and Stripes—Sharing Public Service Stories with Snapchat

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.

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The Content Corner: Recapping Content Marketing Trends in 2016—How Have We Stacked Up?

Earlier this year, it was predicted that content marketing would become even more important due to its ability to enhance not just visibility, but also increase engagement with customers—who could, in turn, become great promoters of your content. Needless to say, much of our time these days as communicators is spent on developing, distributing, maximizing, and repurposing content. In the recent blog post, 15 Content Marketing Trends for 2016, it is noted that the “average American spends nearly four hours a day bombarded with different types of content.

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Gettin’ Giphy With It: NARA Shares Online Library of Animated Gifs

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.

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Check Out Our New USCIS Instagram Account!

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.

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The Content Corner: Using Social Media to Promote, Enhance Preparedness for the Public We Serve

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.

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Rebooting the Social Media Strategy for the National Archives

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.

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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.

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The Content Corner: Quality Over Quantity—a Case for Long-Form Content

****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.

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Catch the Mall! With Pokemon and Public Services

“… 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.

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Trends on Tuesday: Adoption for Pokémon Go Mobile App Goes Crazy

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.

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The Content Corner: How to Leverage User-Generated Content to Resonate With Your Audience

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.

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Connecting With the Public Safety Community Through Social Media

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.

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Twitter’s Evolution and What It Means for Your Government Account

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?

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How to Make Your Facebook Content ‘Pop’ with Images

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.

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The Great Pinterest Experiment: One Year In

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.

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NIH Image Gallery Data Call Success

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.

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Five Ways That Video Will Continue to Evolve on Facebook

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.

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The Content Corner: Is Scheduling Social Media Posts Truly Social?

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.

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FDA’s “The Real Cost”: A Tumblr Success Story

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.

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Trends on Tuesday: Smartphone Ownership Reaching Saturation, Fueling Media Consumption

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.

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The Content Corner: Branches—Stick to the Vine

A branch that does not stick to its source of nutrition will wither away and die. Just ask anyone who has received a bouquet of beautiful flowers about how long they really last. In the same way, as communicators we must stay connected to our audience, or we risk the chance of fading away into insignificance. First-time visitors are great, but return visitors are your loyal following. In the argument of whether to target your current audience or seek to grow more, why not stick your focus on equipping your current audience with ways and incentives to share your content?

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The Content Corner: Will You Read This Entire Post?

Deep down we’ve always known that people only read a small portion of any content shared online. In many ways that can’t be fixed but there are ways to help people read more or at least scan better. There was a book I loved as a child that featured the Sesame Street character Grover, titled The Monster at the End of this Book, where Grover keeps warning the reader to stop turning pages because there is going to be a scary monster at the end.

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The Content Corner: Social Media Metrics and the Challenge of Effective Measurement

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.

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Is Your Federal Mobile App or Website in the U.S. Digital Registry?

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.

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The Content Corner: Facebook Expands Access to Instant Articles

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).

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Preliminary Results from USAGov’s Voter Registration Partnership with Facebook

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.

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A 2016 Look Ahead: What’s on the Horizon for Digital Government?

With January, and the tearing off of the old calendar, comes the annual taking stock of where we’ve been in the last year and where we can go in the year ahead. So for this month’s editorial theme, we’re taking a closer look at what we think 2016 will bring for digital government—from mobile and content, to open data and accessibility. If our “prognosticators” are correct, this year will be the year when apps become more Web-like; video could overtake social media as the preferred method to communicate; and the number of sensors providing real-time access to (government) data will dramatically increase…just to name a few.

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The Content Corner: Content Trends for 2016

The beginning of a new year is generally a time where people on a personal and professional level look ahead and prognosticate. When it comes to almost any digital media, the one thing we can be certain of is that the pace will quicken, the offerings will expand, and something totally unexpected will jump out and surprise us. However there are several specific areas related to content that everyone should keep an eye out for in 2016.

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#SomosSocial: Bilingual Twitter Chats—How to Do Them Effectively

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.

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DigitalGov’s 2015 Year in Review

As we look ahead to 2016, we wanted to take a minute to look at our most popular content in 2015 and reflect on our second year. This was a big year for DigitalGov as we saw our session traffic nearly double and our weekly and daily email subscribers increase by 15%. DigitalGov was also named as a 2015 must-read blog by FedTech magazine, which is due to the great contributions from our guest authors, representing 42 agencies and departments across the federal government!

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Fascinating Geysers on the NPS Yellowstone Geysers App

Geological phenomena such as steaming mud craters, bubbling mud pools, hot springs and geysers are some of the exhilarating features of a geo-thermal wonderland. Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park falls into this category. If you are planning a visit to Yellowstone, you can download the National Park Service (NPS)’s NPS Yellowstone Geysers free mobile app from iTunes for iOS and Google Play for Android devices. The app is simple to use with a straightforward menu structure.

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Trends on Tuesday: Facebook, TV and How to Reach Millennials and Hispanics

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.

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#SomosSocial: 5 Keys for Government to Reach Hispanics Through Social Media

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?

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The Content Corner: Twitter, Apple News and the Importance of Our Websites

First, McDonald’s started serving breakfast all day. Now, Twitter announced it is dropping its 140 character limit for tweets. Black is white, up is down. Or is it really that big a deal? Is Twitter just keeping itself relevant in the battle for your content? LinkedIn and Facebook were first with their strong push for organizations to stop linking to content on their platforms and actually generate original content there.

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Optimizing Social at Peace Corps: Not a Zero-Sum Game

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.

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The Content Corner: Defining Your Core

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.

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The Content Corner: Harness the Power of User-Generated Content

As of 2015, Millennials spent 30% of their time consuming user-generated content (UGC), and 54% of that group find UGC more trustworthy than content generated by a specific brand. This covers everything from user-generated reviews on Yelp! to short-form videos. Another benefit of UGC is that it helps crowdsource the burden of feeding the content beast and can allow you to more fully engage not only with your customers, but with other staff within your agency that may not be a part of a typical content creation regime.

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Trends on Tuesday: Mobile Messaging and Social App Research Released

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.

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Trends on Tuesday: The Rise in “Mobile Addicts”

Yahoo’s mobile analytics division, Flurry, released an interesting report, in July, comparing mobile usage among three distinct types of users around the world based on how frequently they launch mobile applications each day: Regular Users, Super Users and Mobile Addicts. According to Flurry, of the 1.855 billion total mobile app users in the world: 985 million people or 53% are Regular Users 590 million people or 32% are Super Users 280 million people or 15% are Mobile Addicts Each of these categories grew at least 26%, or more, compared to 2014, with Mobile Addicts’ growth exploding to 59% in a year-over-year comparison.

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What’s in a Name? “Communities” in the Public and Private Sectors

Many of you are part of a government community. We lead a few of them here, and new ones are forming all the time. In fact, as I was writing this article, I stumbled upon a community for government Drupal users. A co-worker recently asked me for research on communities because she is trying to increase the sense of community among her program’s customers. Her question made me realize that the public and private sectors use communities in different ways.

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2015 Customer Service Trends: a Mid-Year Update

Earlier this year, we published 15 Government Customer Service Trends for 2015. We’re halfway through the year now—how are these trends holding up? 1. Centralized Customer Offices A few agencies have created centralized customer offices, while others question the need for a single organization that focuses on the customer. As the public’s overall satisfaction with the federal government continues to fall, a single organization can monitor customer feedback from across the enterprise to identify and address problems with the customer experience (CX).

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Celebrating Parks, Creating Connections: NPS Prepares for 2016 Centennial

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.

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As the World Churns: Earthquake Detection via Twitter

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.

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Engaging Audiences Through Quora

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.

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Real Internationalization Isn’t Just Geographic: It’s Linguistic

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.

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How Agencies “Pin” Down Their Audiences

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.

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#SocialGov Round Up 2015

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.

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Monthly Theme: Building, Evaluating, and Improving Government Services Through Social Media

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.

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The Content Corner: Connecting With Customers at Labor

Here at DigitalGov, customer service is a focal theme during the month of May, and by some type of cosmic chance, I was invited to share my insights on content strategy and content creation at a Customer Service Community of Practice event at the Department of Labor. The event focused on topics I commonly discuss here in The Content Corner, such as efficient and interesting content and how better content translates into better customer service.

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How a Twitter Chat about Healthy Aging Reached More than 4 Million People

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.

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Increasing Engagement and Website Visits with Twitter Cards

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.

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USA.gov in Beta: Tell Us What You Think

Thirteen years in digital is an eon, and on the eve of its 13th birthday, we at USA.gov found ourselves reckoning with a mid-life crisis. In the thirteen years since Firstgov.gov was launched (and ten years for FirstGov en Español), the sheer volume and sophistication of government websites has exploded. We’ve seen Web customers evolve from timid and curious users to adroit searchers who can download music, read a newspaper, and respond to a text message simultaneously—using only their thumbs.

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Creating a Veterans-Centered Experience Through ExploreVA

Good customer service includes user-centered design. For one digital team at the Department of Veterans Affairs, creating a veterans-centered experience started with one word: explore. The ExploreVA website provides a single location for veterans and their families to research the benefits that they may be entitled to receive. Benefits include health care, education, employment, and many more services. VA’s Megan Moloney, Director of Digital Media Engagement, and Josh Tuscher, New Media Technologist, spoke about ExploreVA and the process it took to develop this user-centered, interactive platform.

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The Content Corner: The Content Wars

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.

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Sharing the Essentials of Animated Gifs for Public Services

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ohmyOKPSGPg&w=600] 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.

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Meeting Customer Needs Through Social Media

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.

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The Content Corner: Finding Your Voice

No, this is not another post about podcasting but about a different voice entirely. It is the words you use, the conversation that you are having with your users. Is your content using the most effective language possible to communicate and to convey emotions like trust or empathy? As an article from Larsen Design states, “You don’t want to sound like Brahms when your audience is listening to Beck.

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Social Sharing Buttons: Location, Location, Location

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?

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Multiple Languages, Single Platforms: the World Digital Library

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.

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Why Your Social Traffic Looks Low in Analytics Tools

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.

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The Content Corner: Should You Be Podcasting?

Along a somewhat personal journey (that you have chosen to join) to better define the term content, I’ve stumbled upon the puzzle of podcasts. Full disclosure: I have never been and most likely will never be a consumer of podcasts, ten years ago or today. I tried several times to listen to “Serial” and my lifestyle just doesn’t seem to allow for the level of concentration that a podcast requires.

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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.

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The Content Corner: Making Those Connections

A (possibly infamous) blog post from last Friday and the discussion/debate that followed reminded me of several important points that we all may lose sight of during our hectic schedules. 1. Audience Determines the Message The first big item was that audience determines message; or more importantly, the best way to reach your audience may force you and your agency out of your comfort zone. Thankfully, it makes you embrace new—and at times—slightly scary technologies and helps you redefine what your concept of content is.

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On the Spot: Must-Have IFTTT Recipes for Government

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.

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Improving How Social Media Informs Leadership and Public Initiatives

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.

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Busting Myths and Building Partnerships: National Drug Facts Week

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.

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IFTTT Combines Social Media, Mobile and Internet of Things for Government

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.

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6 Digital Media Trends for 2015: You Can Make Them Accessible!

Resolutions and predictions abound this time of year. If you’ve already lost the fight to finally give up sardine ice cream, you can always resolve to maintain or improve your digital media accessibility. Some people say that accessibility and Section 508 compliance squashes innovation and new trends, but with the right approach, you can make them accessible. When you consider accessibility at every project’s onset, you’ll make the most of these trends and engage your audience and, perhaps, gain new users.

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Training Trends in 2014

In recent years, DigitalGov University (DGU) has evolved from a prescriptive training program to a more agile program looking to federal government leaders like you to share the innovations, tools, resources, hurdles and case studies of how you work to meet the digital expectations of the 21st century citizen customer better. Whew. That’s a mouthful. Thanks to all the participation from you, across many agencies, we’ve hosted over 100 events this past year with over 8,000 attendees.

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Going “Behind the Blog” with the Law Library of Congress

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.

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Promoting Women’s Health Through Dynamic Multilingual Content

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.

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Sharing is Caring, Adding Social Media Accounts to Search

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.

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Census Promotes Mobile Apps Front and Center!

Those cutting edge folks over at Census have raised the bar again! Not only do they have three mobile apps that use their own APIs, but now everyone who visits Census.gov is presented with an overlay promoting America’s Economy, Census PoPQuiz, and dwellr. Clicking on the overlay takes you straight to their mobile products page. Overlay advertising is just one way to promote your mobile products. Your public affairs office is key to ensure you promote to social media and other channels that will alert your users and relevant communities.

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To Learn About reddit, Listen First

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.

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Social Media: Accessibility Issues and Solutions

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.

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U.S. Gov Releases New Collaborative Social Media Services

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.

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DigitalGov Citizen Services Summit a Success

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]

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Why We Turned Off Comments on the USA.gov Blog

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?

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Trends on Tuesday: Hispanic Millennials Provide Insight on Mobile Future

If you’re a frequent Trends on Tuesday reader, you may recall our post titled, “Latinos Embrace the Mobile Future,” which outlined several key categories where Latinos have adopted mobile technology faster than other groups. A new report by Univision and the Interactive Advertising Bureau, took an in-depth look at the mobile habits of Hispanic millennials, revealing that these tech-savvy, young adults not only embrace the mobile future, but may shape what the mobile future will look like.

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Inter-Agency Federal Social Media Promotes Women’s Health Campaign

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.

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Save the Date for FCC’s Social Media Accessibility Event

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.

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Wrestling Government Social Media Data Into Knowledge

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.

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Need Help Responding to Facebook & Twitter Questions? Use Your Contact Center Customer Service Experts

Government agencies are always looking for better ways to connect with their audiences while making more effective use of existing (or shrinking) resources. To that end, many agencies—including ours, the National Cancer Institute—have begun to use social media platforms to help serve the communications mission. As these tools have become more widely used, NCI’s Contact Center has become an essential partner in our social media efforts. For those who don’t know us, NCI is the largest of the 27 Institutes and Centers within the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which is part of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).

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Federal Perspectives on Reaching Our Audiences with New Media Tools in 2014

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.

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When Sharing Buttons Work

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.

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Customer Satisfaction: Innovating with Lack of Resources

As government contact centers, we all face financial and technological constraints in our pursuit to improve the customer experience. One challenge faced by many contact centers is staffing limitations to handle the volume of incoming customer traffic. There are barely enough employees to operate phones, let alone work on meeting or exceeding the organizational customer satisfaction performance goals. One initiative that was important to the City of Philadelphia’s 311 non-emergency contact center was the successful collection of customer feedback and coaching our employees to improve the customers’ experience with each transaction.

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How to Tell Your Agency’s Story—Plainly

You’ve got the right words, the active verbs, the carefully chosen adjectives and adverbs. You’ve got the facts. You’ve got the talking points. All you have to do is put it together, right? Wait. What you want to tell people is not necessarily what they need to know. I know it’s hard to organize material for your reader, but it’s the key to writing in plain language. Besides being the law, it’s also a best practice and the best way for getting people to read your content.

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To Use Social Sharing Buttons or Not

Our digital gov neighbors in the U.K. have been working on their own digital strategy, including the consolidating into a single website. When the GOV.UK team introduced social sharing buttons, that allow users to post a link to the page on Facebook or Twitter, on their pages, it wasn’t in response to audience request, but as an experiment. And after two and a half months, they decided to do some analysis.

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Digital Analytics Program (DAP): Oceans of Data

In the last 15 months, the federal Digital Analytics Program (DAP) monthly Web traffic has grown to more than 1.1 billion views gov-wide, providing Web analytics to 29 U.S. federal cabinet-level agencies and nearly 3,000 public-facing government Web properties. The mission of the DAP is to help improve digital citizen services by providing comprehensive digital analytics, training and best practices to agencies. Information reported in DAP Web Analytics is a gold mine for research and analysis for improving the effectiveness, efficiency and relevancy of information and services provided on the government websites.

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Nine Tips to Leverage your Facebook Page

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.

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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.

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Lights, Camera, Action! 7 Tips to Run a Successful Video Challenge

Not sure how to craft a video challenge that will result in the creative solutions your agency is looking for? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Jason Crusan from NASA and Tammi Marcoullier from Challenge.gov joined a recent DigitalGov University webinar to share best practices and hurdles in running video competitions. We’ve recapped their advice and key takeaways here: Video challenges are a great way to engage the public around a visual story.

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Engagement

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?

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Managing, Measuring and Archiving with Hootsuite

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.

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Trends on Tuesday: 65% of All Email Gets Opened First on a Mobile Device

While composing email on mobile phones is still a tricky feat, email reading is quickly shifting away from the desktop. According to data from the US Consumer Device Preference Report: Q4 2013 from Movable Ink, way more than half of all email — a full 65 percent — is now being accessed via mobile devices in the U.S. That’s up relatively steeply from just 61 percent for the third quarter of 2013.

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Extreme Makeover: GC News Release Edition

The Government of Canada (GC) is retiring the traditional news release format in favour of a more digital-friendly product that makes the key messages of announcements clearer, quick facts more accessible and integrates more effectively with social media channels. The old style release – which hasn’t changed in over 50 years – disappeared on December 31, 2013. Gone with it are the dense blocks of text that make it hard to read, the use of long titles in headlines and leads and the use of complex jargon.

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Trends on Tuesday: 4th Qtr Online Mobile Traffic Up 40% Over Last Year

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.

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Live Tweeting Government Events – DOs and DON’Ts

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.

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Great Customer Experience through Open Dialogue

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.

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Trends on Tuesday: Mobile Surpasses Desktop for Social Media

More users are now accessing social media via mobile than on desktops. People are checking email or using social networks during their commute, in line at the grocery store, or waiting at the doctor’s office. MarketingResearch.org recently covered the topic and UnifiedSocial created the infographic in the post (click it to get full version) around trends in social and mobile. Here are some key stats: Mobile users are nearly twice as likely to share content on social networks as desktop users Global shipments of tablets will eclipse PCs in 2015 78% of US Facebook users access via mobile at least once a month 60% of Twitter users access via mobile at least once a month Mobile users are 66% more likely to retweet content than web users.

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Creative Challenge Contests

Multimedia, Photo, Poster, Design Challenge and prize competitions are one path that federal agencies take to drive innovation and solve mission-centric problems—whether technical, scientific, or creative. Creative competitions include multimedia, photo, poster, and design competitions. <div> </div> <div> Here you’ll find tips on running a creative challenge, resources, examples, and information about online platforms you can use to host your competition. </div> <h2> Definition </h2> <div> Creative competitions and challenges are about (1) seeking professional, high-quality products, (2) aimed at driving mass citizen awareness and engagement around the message in the challenge, or (3) both.

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PEW Report: Trends in Digital News

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.

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Tackling PII in Electronic Data

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)?

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Privacy Policies, Terms of Service, and PIAs! Oh My!

_Guest post by Cheryl Hackley who works in the Office of Public Affairs at the Federal Trade Commission. _ From my early days of using email, sites like MySpace, and later getting my first smartphone, it was a common practice for me to breeze right past or simply “accept” privacy policies on websites and apps. That was until a few years ago when I joined the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) as its first social media strategist.

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Thunderclap Now Available for Government-Wide Adoption

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.

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Trends on Tuesday: Uprise of SMS Marketing

MobileMarketingWatch recently published an article on how the SMS marketing world is changing. Due to its popularity, SMS has evolved into one of the most effective mobile marketing strategies. Improves Relevance for All: Marketers tailor campaigns to a variety of interests in order to create more relevant messages that are more effective and allows businesses of all sizes to take advantage of this resource. Spreading Across Industries: SMS marketing is a resource used by all different types of businesses since text messages have a 90% average open rate and are more effective than email notifications.

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Moderating a Government Blog

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.

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Digital Metrics for Federal Agencies

Digital metrics are critical for measuring, analyzing, and reporting on the effectiveness of your Web, mobile, social media, and other digital channels. Every agency should have a metrics strategy to measure performance, customer satisfaction, and engagement, and use the data to make continuous improvements to serve its customers. Part 1: Common Metrics: Guidance, Best Practices, and Tools Part 2: Reporting Requirements and Common Tools Part 3: Rationale and Framework for Common Metrics and Measures Part 4: Case Studies, Training, and Additional Resources Part 1: Common Metrics—Guidance, Best Practices, and Tools Agencies should ensure that they collect, analyze, and report on a minimum baseline set of performance and customer satisfaction measures.

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What We’ve Learned: Three Years of Answering Questions on Social Media

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.

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5 Myths About Social Media Accessibility

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.

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Take Your Social Media Program From Rags to Riches

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.

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Government Must Respond Rapidly to Social Media Hacking

[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.

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Using Gamification in Federal Projects

Gamification is the practice of using game technology or design principles for something that is not inherently game-like. Some examples include: bronze, silver, and gold badges for reading a set number of books, progress bars in online surveys, leader boards for top grades on an exam, or rewards for attending in-person events. As gamification projects are becoming increasing common in the government, here are some basic principles and policies to help program managers and project directors make informed decisions around this popular technique.

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Case Study: How GSA Launched Social Media Registry

In September, the General Services Administration (GSA) launched a registry of all federally-managed social media accounts. We want to explain a little of the history behind the registry and talk about a few things that make it a truly remarkable innovation from GSA. Before I start, I want to emphasize when I say “we” from here on, I’m referring to the entire team at GSA’s Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies (OCSIT) that made this happen.

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