Social Media and Government - Match Made In Heaven Or Hell


Top : Government Using Social Media:

Governments Jump Into Social Media

We're long enough into the social media revolution that governments, usually conservative with new things, have jumped in. Fueled by the idea that we "have to be there", and often not much else in terms of consideration of strategic and departmental goals, governments from all levels are using Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms.

But Is It "Working"?

Well, if you strip aside all the claims it will "work", coming from social media advocates, it's hard to tell. If governments using social media haven't developed strategies to tie use into the role and mission of the department, they won't have set up any metrics by which to gauge whether it's doing what it's supposed to.

That's not to say, no metrics are being used, but they have almost nothing to do with the effectiveness of the organization at achieving its goals. For example, metrics involving how many friends or followers are attached to a Facebook or Twitter account mean nothing. The goal isn't to get followers, no matter how you construe the functions of government.

Where Will It All End Up?

Probably some governments WILL use social media effectively and according to their mandates. It's easy to see, for example, how a municipality can use Twitter for almost real time updates on traffic problems. It's a lot harder to see how the Department of Defense, or the IRS needs or can benefit from using social media in the same way.

Over time, we'll probably see some of the efforts rightfully whither from neglect, while others will prove their worth. Yet, there will always be advocates pushing the shiny new social media toys, even when they have no possible link to achieving government goals.

Available Information About How Governments Are Using, And Should Be Using Social Media

10 Prospective Federal Government Pinterest Boards - by Gadi Ben-Yehuda
Pinterest for government? New agreement makes it easier for government agencies to use Pinterest. But to what purpose? Here are ten IDEAS that one person thinks would be good use of Pinterest by government. Judge for yourself whether you think this is a good use of employee time. (Views So Far 253 )

Reinventing government customer service, the social way - by GovTech
Polemic to encourage governments to use social media, and mobilizaton to improve customer service to "follow" the private sector. There is, however, little evidence to suggest that social customer service has resulted in improved service in the private OR public sector. (Views So Far 152 )

Social Media In Government: Managing The Risks - by Information Week
At this point, most government agencies know about the risks of using social media. At least for security issues. In case you need them, this article runs down the risks from primarily a security viewpoint. (Views So Far 220 )

Government Social Media Integration: Reducing Risks - by Robert Venczel
Three part article series, this one focuses on the NON-security issues involved when government uses social media platforms -- things like rogue employee comments, getting caught in destructive arguments, and the issue of political comments. (Views So Far 215 )

Social media: How to handle a mishap - by New Zealand Government
From New Zealand government, here's a brief downloadable document providing guidance on how to handle a social media mishap, problem, or uprising. (Views So Far 327 )

Beyond the Suggestion Box: Government's Crowdsourcing Revolution - by JOHN M. KAMENSKY
Most government leaders are restlessly on the search for new ideas, for innovation, for whatever is next. It may be their good luck that this is shaping up to be a Golden Age for engaging citizens, customers and employees. For evidence of this, one need look no further than the rapidly expanding use of "crowdsourcing." This social-media tool is going mainstream in many communities as a source of innovative ideas. The growing interest in engaging the crowd to identify or develop innovative solutions to public problems was inspired by wildly successful efforts in the commercial world to design innovative consumer products or solve complex scientific problems, ranging from custom-designed T-shirts to mapping genetic DNA strands. (Views So Far 316 )

Private Social Networks: Every Organization Needs Them - by Courtney Shelton Hunt
Government have jumped on the social network bandwagon, but there are a number of risks attached. This article suggest government look more to private social networks. (Views So Far 213 )

Is Social Media a Friend or Foe of Government? - by Tina Trenkner
Whatever comes of these efforts, governments will always face some element of risk when using social media. Nobody has control over what their Facebook friends do -- that's the fun and the flaw of Web 2.0 for governments. Then again, when citizens go to the microphone at a council meeting, nobody has control over them, either. Social media will continue to evolve and mature. And as it becomes more intertwined in Americans' lives, it will become more intertwined in how they engage with their state and local governments. That's still what Jeffrey Horne believes. Horne has moved on to a new position as city administrator of Clinton, Iowa. And while the memory of his Facebook flop in Mitchellville remains fresh in his mind, he's intent on figuring out a way to use social media to engage citizens. He thinks Twitter could be useful for broadcasting alerts to citizens when there's, say, sewer work they should know about. Horne says, "I don't think there will be much of an issue with this." (Views So Far 237 )

How Social Media And Business Process Tools Boost Productivity - by Steve Charles
Mistitled and misleading, and without merit. There's no evidence offered, regarding increased productivity. (Views So Far 245 )

Police embrace social media as crime-fighting tool - by Heather Kelly
Fascinating account of how police and law enforcement are "using social media" in their fights against crime. Although it's not that they use social media per se, but use social media to mine data and information to find perps. (Views So Far 254 )

5 Lessons Learned from Government Leaders on Social Media Adoption - by BRAD GRIMES
"We got this message saying, 'Governor, I've been a victim of domestic violence and I don't know what to do,' " says Zoe Pagonis, O'Malley's communications and new media manager. The team direct-messaged her through Twitter and then connected her with available resources. Pagonis says that encounter is a perfect example of why state and local governments should have an active presence on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Agencies ranging from police departments to fish and game are launching social media accounts. To learn what works and what doesn't, read on for their best practices. (Views So Far 283 )

Social Media: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly for Local Government - by Adrian Herbs
Written from a legal perspective, this presentation given at the 75th annual conference of the International Municipal Lawyers Association provides advice to municipal attorneys in developing a coherent, legal and useful social media policy for local governments. Citing Supreme Court cases, technology think-tank reports, U.S. Copyright law and anecdotes from individual localities, the authors attempt to develop a social and legal framework that will allow municipalities to take advantage of the social media craze that has swept the internet while shielding them from issues of libel, privacy, copyright and other potential pitfalls of the platform. (Views So Far 287 )

Have Any Government Social Media Activities Led to Really Obvious Results? - by Andrew Krzmarzick
THE critical question when it comes to government use of social media. Here's a discussion looking for positive case studies. (Views So Far 242 )

To use social media in a time of need, start building networks before disasters - by Alex Howard
Counter argument to Di Maio's contention that government should NOT use social media on a regular basis, but use it exceptional circumstances only. Excerpt: To be frank, Di Maio's advice that authorities shouldn't incorporate social media into their normal course of business is precisely the opposite of the experience on the ground of organizations like the Los Angeles Fire Department, Red Cross or FEMA. Here's Brian Humphrey, public information officer of the LAFD, on best practices for social media (Views So Far 314 )

Hurricane Sandy Confirms the Tactical Nature of Social Media - by Andrea Di Maio
Interesting take on government use of social media. Excerpt: As I wrote a while ago, in other places where the role of social media in managing the emergency was celebrated and even led to awards and recognition, when the water levels dropped and life returned to normal, authorities were left with unanswered questions about how to incorporate all this exciting and important stuff into their strategies and their normal course of business. The simple answer is that they can't and they shouldn't. Social media can serve an important purpose when something extraordinary happens. When we all stop chatting about sport results, or favorite actors, or how to bake, and feel compelled to collect and relay information that can help other people, then it is time for authorities to join the chatter, search for patterns, use this additional and powerful channel. But when things are back to normal, and we go back to chatting about sports and cakes, making social media an institutional tool for public safety is a tougher call. (Views So Far 276 )

Agencies getting the hang of social media - by Camille Tuutti
Excerpt: "There is no shortage of social activity in government, but a new report finds that agencies are becoming increasingly familiar with the benefits of social platforms and discovering uses that further their missions". The question remains unanswered, however, as to WHY government is jumping in so heavily and whether it furthers government's achievement of its unique roles. (Views So Far 277 )

San Francisco experiments with citizensourcing better ideas | Gov 2.0: The Power of Platforms - by Alex Howard
Example of a city using social media to crowdsource ways to improve municipal government to improve services to citizens -- San Francisco. (Views So Far 271 )

Federal Gov't Science and Social Media Policy: QandA with Gretchen Goldman - by Mark Malseed
When you think of the many ways our federal government uses social media, "promoting scientific research" isn't likely to be at the top of your list. Yet amid the political chatter, policy news, and, lately, snow and sequestration talk, plenty of federally-supported science gets spread via social channels. The social media policies of federal agencies don't always have the interests of federal scientists in mind, however, according to a study published today by the Union of Concerned Scientists (Views So Far 210 )

Will Yelp Help the Citizen Experience? | - by Ben Lanius
U.S. federal government will be working with Yelp to provide citizens a means of...well, we'll see if it helps. new (Views So Far 0 )

8 Ways for Government to Engage Citizens with Social Media - by Mary Yang
Some tips on generating citizen engagement online, but one has to wonder: "WHY?" and "How, given fiscal restraint". (Views So Far 280 )

Why Banning Anonymous Comments is Bad - by David Eaves
Should government require commenters to have a real identity? Is anonymity online beneficial or does it create problems? In this article the author contends that banning anonymous comments is a bad thing. (Views So Far 256 )

Frequently Asked Questions About Government Social Media and The Law - by OSC
This nine page FAQ explains what government employees can and can't do on social media, what is restricted, what is not. A MUST read for any government employee active on social media. (Views So Far 196 )

Dos and Don'ts for Feds on Social Media [INFOGRAPHIC] - by Lisa Diane and Mark Malseed
Must read infographic on how U.S. governments using social media need to be concerned about the Hatch Act. Outlines what government staff can and can't do to stay within the laws as they apply to social media. (Views So Far 243 )


Basics (4)
Reviews of the various social media platforms, strengths and weaknesses, and more for the novice wanting to understanding government use of social media.
Facebook (7)
Government are using Facebook more and more, but is it really working? Let's look at the successes, failures, and best practices.
(Models and Case Studies) (Models and Case Studies)
Twitter (5)
Government agencies are also using Twitter to communicate with their constituents. In this section you'll find case studies, guides, and principles to help agencies use Twitter effectively.

About Company

Bacal & Associates is a small training, consulting and publishing company specializing in government. Founded in 1992, we have been serving government training and consulting needs for 22 years. We focus on customer service, communication, performance management, and other management challenges within hte public sector.

Privacy Policy

Our Related Sites

It Takes A Village To Teach A Child
For teachers, educational administrators and parents.

All About The Workplace
Our main site with over 400 articles on life in the workplace.

Improving Customer Service
Dedicated to improving customer service, and customer service strategies for business


We believe in a lean, information packed user experience. We limit the use of graphics and stress quality content. We also believe in a NO HYPE environment. Our product and service descriptions are free of overblown claims, and selling.

Get in Touch

  • Phone:
    (613) 764-0241
  • Email:
  • Address:
    722 St. Isidore Rd.
    Casselman, Ontario, Canada
  • K0A 1M0