Given the government’s reputation in some quarters as a stodgy, slow-to-adopt monolith in matters of online communication, some might expect Web 2.0 social media tools, spreading so infectiously in the private sector, to have little appeal among the feds (at least during this decade).
Federal Computer Week gives the lie to this cliché in two articles published earlier last month. FCW ranks the federal agencies most successful in using Twitter and Facebook, respectively, to engage the public. The reach and social media savvy of these early adopters might surprise you.
The agencies on either or both lists are not—primarily—reaching out with a human capital and recruiting agenda top-of-mind. Even so, if you’re inclined to regard these social media programs merely as plain old information dissemination, you’re understating their influence on their audiences. That’s like calling a popular music concert just an exercise in listening enjoyment. Yes, the description may be accurate at its core, but—especially if it’s a rock, R&B, or hip-hop event—it doesn’t quite capture the full experience of being in the auditorium.
For many in these agencies’ social media audiences, that “experience” is charged with high value, and often as much as the information content itself. The truly committed among them gain what brand adherents thrive on—the felt sense that they are insiders and sharers. To me this seems like a pretty cost-effective way to tap the collective enthusiasm and energy of appreciative individuals, in effect, kick starting the social motor of brand contagion. In their efforts to cultivate attentive communities for the agency and the medium—not merely to distribute information—these leading agencies are showing that they “get” social marketing and Web 2.0.
Will the sponsoring agencies also reap recruiting benefits from these Gov 2.0 initiatives? Do you really need me to state this obvious benefit outright? As you build a compelling brand and a community of admirers, you will attract more and more qualified and enthusiastic individuals to your workforce. It’s as simple as that.
Text in graphic on right:
Government Twitter leaders (FCW, September 10)
- The White House: 1,071,927 followers
- CDC Emergency: 808,979 folowers
- NASA: 125.901 followers
- U.S. Army: 14,263 followers
- Smithsonian: 12711 followers
Government Facebook leaders (FCW, September 14)
- The White House: 327,592 fans
- Marine Corps: 83,144 fans
- U.S. Army: 49,416 fans
- CDC: 21,257 fans
- State Department: 16,386 fans