Using Social Media in Government

Most of us are familiar with Facebook and Twitter, two popular social media tools, even if we don’t use them in our personal or professional lives.  Merriam-Webster defines social media as: Forms of electronic communication through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, and other content.  In the last couple of years government agencies have been implementing social media as public outreach tools. There are numerous examples of government Facebook pages and Twitter accounts which have proved invaluable especially during emergency situations. Social media can be a powerful tool that helps governments achieve transparency and engage citizens.   

Government employees who are involved with social media face unique challenges and must be aware of the strengths and weaknesses of the sites they develop and deploy.  Fortunately there is a wealth of information available to help.  If part of your work involves developing or using social media the following are two online resources to explore.

At the state level, href="http://www.empire-20.ny.gov/">www.empire-20.ny.gov  provides resources to help you develop your own social media initiative.  The site was created by The New York State Office of Information Technology Services as part of its Empire 2.0 Initiative. The site offers a list of current New York State social media accounts. If your agency is just beginning to implement social media the site offers individual tool box kits which can help you set up blogs, Facebook pages and Twitter accounts. There is also a news section and blog to keep you informed of new developments in the world of government social media.   

At the federal level, www.howto.gov/social-media is part of USA.gov the federal government's web portal.  This site is comprehensive and provides information on: Requirements and Best Practices, Managing Content, Usability & Design, Accessibility, and Multilingual Websites. The site also contains several webinars that can be viewed on demand.  Two webinars that are currently listed include: Engaging Audiences with Twitter and Yammer: the Power of Social Networking Inside Government Agencies.  
Last Updated: March 3, 2014