Although social media is not necessarily a new marketing strategy for many business and government agencies, it seems to be paying off – and more public sector organizations are adopting the right strategies.
Social media has allowed agencies to improve communications with citizens – from gathering crowd-sourced data to pushing out time-sensitive communications – and all in a cost-effective manner.
Some agencies, like NASA, have been very creative in their social media approaches like the Gangnam-style take-off YouTube video that has received more than four million views.
NASA is not the only agency taking a winning approach to social media. According to a recent Federal Times article, several agencies have embraced social media with impressive results. Here are a couple of examples from the article:
The Energy Department
- In 2010, the Energy Department implemented Powerpeida, an internal online wiki, to centrally store and share progress on department-wide initiatives, operations and programs.
- It contains nearly 23,000 pages of information on department acronyms and their meanings, computer assistance, health and fitness services, phone lists, energy-efficiency tips for the office and more.
- A team of 80 department experts ensure content is relevant, accurate and beneficial for users.
- The Energy Department invested $22,000 to launch the site and host it, and spends a minimal amount to maintain it.
The Air Force Surgeon General
- A year ago, more than 50 percent of bases had little medical-related information online.
- Today, all Air Force bases have medical websites and 86 percent of Air Force Medical Service’s medical facilities today are using Facebook to communicate with Air Force personnel and their families on issues such as diabetes, suicide and asthma.
- The Air Force Surgeon General does not have a designated social media budget or staff but incorporates those duties into its public affairs office.
For the past couple of years, the public sector has been implementing social media at a record pace. In fact, Market Connections’ 2011 Public Sector Social Media Study indicated a significant increase in the acceptance of social media in the public sector. LinkedIn grew from 32 percent using it in 2010 to 70 percent in 2011, while Twitter increased from 30 percent in 2010 to 55 percent in 2011.
This is one of the reasons why the new guidance from the CIO Council suggests that every federal agency’s information technology shop include workers with social media expertise.
My, how the times have changed in many ways! The Market Connections study also found that, in 2010, 55 percent of agencies banned access to some or all social media sites, but this number dropped sharply in 2011 to 19 percent, a substantial 65 percent change.
The most effective social media strategies are measurable and meet overall agency mission goals. By further engaging citizens through social media – even through a Gangnam Style parody video – agencies can augment their overall communications efforts in new and innovative ways.