Social media surges as an agency branding tool: three cases to consider

Judging by their efforts, the most pro-active practitioners of social media outreach in the government are turning enthusiastically to the mobile web, Facebook, and other Gov 2.0 modes as they strive to expand their respective agencies’ prestige and audience reach.

For those of us who are focused on recruitment, it’s a little surprising that most of these initiatives don’t begin with the intent of attracting new hires. Still, these leading agencies are building their brands and that, done well, results directly in more informed and enthusiastic recruits.

Here are three examples of federal organizations that are demonstrating a sophisticated understanding of the power of social media, although each emphasizes a different aspect of the challenge:

  • the U.S. Army’s IPhone application,
  • the White House’s use of video on its Facebook page, and
  • the EPA ‘s development of guidelines for its employees’ use of social media.

The Army has released an IPhone app that allows access to a vast store of materials, including content from the Army’s Facebook and Flickr pages, as well as all the video products on its Web site. Released in mid-December, the app achieved more than 20,000 downloads in its first month alone, soaring to a Top-25 ranking for free news sources at the iTunes App store. Take note of its Find a Recruiter facility if you need evidence of the app’s more direct contribution to recruiting. You can find out how to download the app at

Best Practies case number two is the White House, which recently posted a seven-minute video on its Facebook page. The video is a professionally produced mini-documentary about the White House advance team’s trip to an Ohio town to prep for a presidential visit. From a branding standpoint, this slice-of-life coverage, complete with jiggly hand-held camera work, reinforces the authenticity and appeal of everyday activities by the team. Other agencies—particularly those with a more urgent mission to recruit employees actively—can find a polished model here. This is exposure to on-the-job reality at its best, an indispensible tool for reinforcing the appeal of an agency to the community of potential recruits, which is almost always more expansive than agency human capital planners imagine.

My last case is not flashy in any way, but underscores an emerging need in federal social media use: how to ensure that overenthusiastic employees don’t go overboard with the tools at their disposal. EPA’s guidelines are judicious and prescient. Among agencies that encourage informed employee/brand ambassador use of social media, this is a first. In the hope that other agencies will emulate it, I’m reprinting EPA’s handy flowchart below.


Thomas Delorme
Written by Thomas Delorme

VP, Digital Products & Strategy


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