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Justin Herman

Emerging Tech and Open Data for a More Open and Accountable Government

Open data and emerging technologies—including artificial intelligence and distributed ledgers, such as blockchain—hold vast potential to transform public services held back by bureaucracy and outdated IT systems. We are opening the doors to bold, fresh ideas for government accountability, transparency and citizen participation by working with U.S. businesses, civil society groups and others to shape national goals for emerging technologies and open data in public services. At our upcoming collaborative workshop, Emerging Technology and Open Data for a More Open Government, we invite new partners to help craft potential goals to be integrated into the fourth U.

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Opening Public Services to Artificial Intelligence Assistants

“Hey, Computer, how do I access my public services?” Citizens will soon be able to ask their Intelligent Personal Assistants (IPA) this question through an Emerging Citizen Technology open-sourced pilot program. The purpose of the initiative is to guide dozens of federal programs make public service information available through automated, self-service platforms for the home and office such as Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Microsoft Cortana and Facebook Messenger. Last week, participants from more than a dozen federal agencies, both in D.

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Federal Pilot to Integrate Public Services Into Intelligent Personal Assistants

The demand for more automated, self-service access to United States public services, when and where citizens need them, grows each day—and so do advances in the consumer technologies like Intelligent Personal Assistants designed to meet those challenges. The U.S. General Services Administration’s (GSA) Emerging Citizen Technology program, part of the Technology Transformation Service’s Innovation Portfolio, launched an open-sourced pilot to guide dozens of federal programs to make public service information available to consumer Intelligent Personal Assistants (IPAs) for the home and office, such as Amazon Alexa, Microsoft Cortana, Google Assistant, and Facebook Messenger.

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Sharing Public Service Visions for Virtual Reality and Artificial Intelligence

I’m taking a break from sorting through dozens of concepts from federal agencies about how they want to use artificial intelligence and virtual reality for citizens in the coming months in order to share with you just some of these groundbreaking initiatives of tomorrow that can be explored at a DigitalGov University workshop this week. We’re launching our two new U.S. government-wide Communities — Artificial Intelligence for Citizen Services, and Virtual/Augmented Reality — with a workshop, creatively called the Artificial Intelligence and Virtual Reality for Federal Public Service Workshop, that brings together federal managers behind programs at more than 50 agencies with dozens of private sector teams ready to demo the technology that will drive our innovations together for years to come.

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GSA launches new AI, Virtual Reality, and Authentication Programs

Today we’re launching three new initiatives powered by GSA Digital Communities that leap federal agencies ahead on some of the most innovative new capabilities becoming available to our programs — Artificial Intelligence, Virtual/Augmented Reality, and the U.S. Digital Registry. These new Communities and portal are products of inter-agency collaboration and our shared commitment pushing the bar forward on effective adoption of digital public services that meet the needs of citizens today and tomorrow… and plant seeds for growing long into the future.

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Catch the Mall! With Pokemon and Public Services

“… I have never seen so many people of all ages walking around our civic spaces and small businesses interacting as I have this morning. Teens catching them. People catching them in line for coffee. Moms outsmarting their kids. Local youths teaching my toddler how to throw a ball. Full grown adults. Marines. Kids on scooters. Kids on bikes. 20-somethings walking in packs. How are other small towns faring? Awesome to be outside right now building a community over something so silly and fun.

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New U.S. Digital Registry Authenticates Official Public Service Accounts

Whether for voter registration, health services or questions about taxes, trusting what and who you engage with online is critical. We’d like to introduce to you a new API-generating repository for official third-party sites, social media platforms and mobile apps in the United States federal government that can help you do that and remove bureaucratic and technological barriers between users and digital public services. It’s called the U.S. Digital Registry, and we hope you’ll join us in using it to develop a new generation of services that:

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Once Upon a FOIA Request: How You Can Open Public Records

Like many of you, we watched with great interest this week when a citizen submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) asking them to release to the public Wu-Tang Clan’s album, Once Upon a Time in Shaolin. While official sources explain that the desired outcome is not possible at this time… …in light of this creative effort, let’s discuss how you too can use FOIA and other Open Government programs to build a better tomorrow.

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Empowering the Voice of Citizens at Core of GSA Open Government

We are proud to announce our commitment to the third U.S. National Action Plan for Open Government, released this week at the Open Government Partnership (OGP) Global Summit in Mexico City, Mexico, and are also eager to share how Public Participation can empower our citizens to have a greater voice and impact in improving their services. In her opening comments at the OGP Summit, Samantha Power, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, noted that making a real impact for citizens takes more than a focus on just increasing social media followers or touting simulated performance, and instead we must dedicate digital engagement programs to providing real, meaningful paths to participation.

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DigitalGov Podcast: The Secrets Behind CIA Social Media

Julia Child and the OSS Recipe for Shark Repellent: http://t.co/q3cC4QiJhR #SharkWeek #OSS #WWII pic.twitter.com/Idbo1OkPLP — CIA (@CIA) July 9, 2015 The Central Intelligence Agency launched their Twitter account with the second most retweeted inaugural post in the platform’s history: “We can neither confirm nor deny that this is our first tweet.” Now for the first time, on the DigitalGov podcast, learn from the CIA itself the best practices behind one of the most high-profile social media accounts in both the public and private sector.

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Facts on the Federal-Compatible Terms of Service Agreement for Yelp

We’ve been excited to see the outpouring of interest this week in response to Yelp’s decision to amend their terms of service for official government use, a clear message that citizens want more ways to ensure their voices are heard by the public programs that serve them. Yelp is just one of dozens of platforms similarly available for agencies to listen to the “Voice of the Customer,” like Feedback USA.

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Five-Star Customer Experience in Public Service with Yelp

Adding customer satisfaction ratings and reviews to public services just got easier now that Yelp offers a terms of service for official government use. Yelp, a Web and mobile-based user review platform, hosts insights from “real people giving their honest and personal opinions on everything from restaurants and spas to coffee shops.” With the addition of Public Services and Government under the Yelp umbrella, agencies can continue to find new ways to use customer insights to improve citizen services.

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Monthly Theme: Building, Evaluating, and Improving Government Services Through Social Media

While examples of government social media content may initially seem like mere fun—the YouTube video of President Obama on Between Two Ferns or the Transportation Security Administration’s “good catch” pics of lipstick stun guns and batarangs—the potential of applied social data to build, evaluate and improve diverse citizen services is only increasing. As we recently discussed on DigitalGov, social media tools are for more than one-way marketing and communication: they provide a connective, responsive capability to public services.

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Sharing the Essentials of Animated Gifs for Public Services

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ohmyOKPSGPg&w=600] Animated gifs are increasingly found throughout the digital experience of today’s users. They offer a dynamic presentation of information in a format that can be both more performance-effective and cost-effective than standard video or images, making them valuable for federal teams looking to bring their programs to the modern digital space and improve customer satisfaction. To find out how animated gifs can be developed to measurably improve public services, we hosted “Essentials of Animated Gifs for Gov” for almost 200 managers in the U.

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On the Spot: Must-Have IFTTT Recipes for Government

Ever since we announced IFTTT was available for federal use, dozens of ideas have been shared for how program managers can use the tool to increase their productivity. I asked some API enthusiasts in the SocialGov community which of their favorite recipes were must-haves for all digital teams or for those new to the platform. First, for those not familiar with it, IFTTT (as in “If This Then That”) combines 166 channels like Twitter, Android and iOS Location, and RSS into “recipes” that can integrate government social media, data, location-based services, and the Internet of Things.

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IFTTT Combines Social Media, Mobile and Internet of Things for Government

The newest addition to the federal government’s social media utility belt may also be one of its most powerful, as IFTTT (as in “If This Then That”) combines 166 channels like Twitter, Android and iOS Location and RSS into “recipes” that can integrate government social media, data, location-based services and the Internet of Things. The service, now one of nearly 80 social media platforms with federal-friendly Terms of Service, will both empower federal managers to operate more effectively and open its Developer platform to fuel everything from open archives to wearable devices with government APIs.

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U.S. Public Participation Playbook Open for Coders and Designers on GitHub

We released the United States Public Participation Playbook this week, a new open resource agencies can use to evaluate and build better programs that give a voice to the people they serve—and the response was fantastic. Public servants and citizens around the world have shared it, and already are contributing new ideas that build from the work of the team of 70 federal leaders, more than a dozen engagement experts, and citizens themselves who worked together to launch it.

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New Inter-Agency Social Media Cyber-Vandalism Toolkit Launched

Federal agencies must prepare social media readiness procedures for cyber-vandalism, effectively recover control during an incident, and respond quickly to the public to maintain confidence in digital services. A new toolkit developed by more than a dozen government managers and representatives from major social media platforms, “Readiness, Recovery Response: Social Media Cyber-Vandalism Toolkit,” will help agencies evaluate and improve security of their programs to ensure they are better prepared for emerging challenges.

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Readiness, Recovery, Response: Social Media Cyber-Vandalism Toolkit

Cyber-vandalism presents a serious challenge to online-based communication tools. Users need available resources to counter intrusions of social media accounts. This document provides guidance and security practices to federal, state, and local government employees. Suggestions and resources prepare users to respond to cyber-hijacking. and will empower digital users to make informed choices and enact future policy. This resource is a “living document” designed for continued contribution and expansion — if you have input please email Justin Herman.

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Big in SocialGov in 2014: Services, Access and Participation

Social media for public service is a diverse field that uses platforms and data from both the private and public sectors to improve citizen services, make them easier to access and deliver them more cost effectively. It is not just public affairs or communications, but spreads into customer service, resource development and more. Many of the best examples of social media in government can’t be seen on the surface of a tweet or post, but in how these collaborative, engaging strategies improve the processes of public services themselves.

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3rd U.S. Public Participation Playbook Draft Released This Month

The new third draft of the U.S. Public Participation Playbook continues to incorporate changes proposed from more than 100 suggestions submitted via public comment aimed at measuring the performance and improving the development of government programs. It takes the 13 initial “plays” from rough brainstorming and collaborations to a more refined, action-focused presentation that will help contributors understand and identify opportunities to contribute, based on feedback. The U.

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2nd U.S. Public Participation Playbook Draft Responds to Public Contributions

The new second draft of the U.S. Public Participation Playbook incorporates changes that were proposed from nearly 100 suggestions submitted after the first week of public comment, with more improvements to come. We still need your contributions for this groundbreaking new collaborative resource to measurably improve our participatory public services across government, and would like to take this opportunity to share what we have learned so far.

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Help Shape Public Participation

Public participation—where citizens help shape and implement government programs—is a foundation of open, transparent, and engaging government services. From emergency management and regulatory development to science and education, better and more meaningful engagement with those who use public services can measurably improve government for everyone. A team across the government is now working side-by-side with civil society organizations to deliver the first U.S. Public Participation Playbook, dedicated to providing best practices for how agencies can better design public participation programs, and suggested performance metrics for evaluating their effectiveness.

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White House SocialGov Summit Aims to Improve Open Data Innovation

More than 100 digital engagement and open data managers from across government met with leaders in the private sector startup community August 7 at the White House for a summit on integrating our digital services with public participation to create more opportunities for innovation and tackle tougher challenges. The SocialGov Summit on Open Data Innovation was organized by the 700-member SocialGov Community and White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, launching a new inter-community initiative to apply combined open data, digital engagement, and innovative technologies to fields ranging from the Internet of Things and emergency management to modernization of the regulatory process.

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Improving the Accessibility of Social Media in Government

Government agencies are increasingly using social media to engage with citizens, share information and deliver services more quickly and effectively than ever before. But as social content, data and platforms become more diverse, agencies have a responsibility to ensure these digital services are accessible to all citizens, including people with disabilities. This Toolkit is your guide to Improving the Accessibility of Social Media in Government. Created with the input of social media leaders and users across government and the private sector, this living document contains helpful tips, real-life examples and best practices to ensure that your social media content is usable and accessible to all citizens, including those with disabilities.

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Federal Social Media Accessibility Toolkit Hackpad

Improving the Accessibility of Social Media for Public Service The following contains the shared document for the development of the Social Media Policy Toolkit, a shared service of the Federal Social Media Community of Practice lead by teams including The Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy. The toolkit is intended to help agencies evaluate the accessibility of their social media programs for persons with disabilities, identify areas that need improving, and share their own ideas and recommendations for helping ensuring our modernization programs are easily accessed by all who need them.

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U.S. Gov Releases New Collaborative Social Media Services

The Federal #SocialGov Community, a collective of almost 700 digital engagement managers from more than 120 government agencies, marked the 2nd anniversary of our program by releasing a suite of new collaborative services to help us better work together and with partners in the private sector to share resources and build public services of the 21st century. The online event, U.S. Federal SocialGov: 2 years of Smashing Silos + Elevating Citizen Services, focused on how collaborative, open participation in the development process will help public services better tackle performance analysis, policy development, accessibility for persons with disabilities, international partnerships and global digital engagement support.

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Facebook Increases Public Service Verification to Improve Citizen Engagement

Facebook is now the first social media platform to start verifying all federal government pages with their signature blue checkmark using the Federal Social Media Registry API. The Federal Social Media Registry provides the singular source that allows social media platforms to quickly collect real government accounts—emphasizing the critical need to ensure the trust, quality and security of citizen engagement. When the public searches for the new Central Intelligence Agency Facebook account, many different accounts pop up—but only one of them is managed by the actual CIA.

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Sign up For DigitalGov Citizen Services Summit, Friday, May 30

We won’t build the government of the 21st century by drawing within the lines. We don’t have to tell you the hard work of building a digital government doesn’t exist in a vacuum or a bubble. Show us social media without mobile, Web without data and user experience without APIs. You can’t? That’s right—in reality, digital government intersects and cuts across boundaries every day in order to deliver the digital goods.

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Government Social Media Isn’t Lagging, It’s Different: And That’s Good

Social Media tools, trends and algorithms come and go, but federal managers continue to see improvements in their digital engagement initiatives when they put citizens at the center of their programs. It’s common to hear that government social media lags behind the private sector especially when held to standards that don’t consider government’s unique needs and goals. Yet, even as marketers call for exit strategies from some platforms, many of our agencies see an increase in their performance even without paid promotions because of effective engagement strategies.

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GSA Introduces News Genius to Decode Government Web

The federal government can now unlock the collaborative “genius” of citizens and communities to make public services easier to access and understand with a new free social media platform launched by GSA today at the Federal #SocialGov Summit on Entrepreneurship and Small Business. News Genius, an annotation wiki based on Rap Genius now featuring federal-friendly Terms of Service, allows users to enhance policies, regulations and other documents with in-depth explanations, background information and paths to more resources.

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State of the #SocialGov 2014

If the silos and barriers that separated our programs are smashed, what could we do to realize the full potential of innovation in public service? Whether you’re a citizen who needs better access to services, an entrepreneur looking to spark innovation in the marketplace, or a public servant who wants to get your mission done more effectively and efficiently — there have never been more opportunities to achieve these through social media in government.

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Managing, Measuring and Archiving with Hootsuite

Federal workers need to know more in social media than just how to send a tweet. Among other things, you also need to manage multiple accounts across platforms and languages; measure and report performance; and archive posts and comments for the public record. We dispelled the notion that technology limits agencies from tackling these challenges by highlighting how agencies can achieve all these in one dashboard — and in the process hope it opened eyes to all the possibilities available to government.

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Instameets Combine In-person and Digital Engagement

Federal agencies continue to look for better ways to combine the benefits of online engagement and in-person action — Instameets can achieve this strategic goal by using Instagram with meetups to amplify the vision of your mission. Katie Harbath, global lead for politics and government engagement at Facebook, joined us at DigitalGov University for a webinar to share with agencies how they can plan Instameets, and some of the nuts and bolts of managing Instagram.

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Innovation Means More, Better, Cost Effective Digital Training

A recent FedTech Magazine article asked, “When There Are No Barriers to Technology, How Can the Government Innovate?” We thought we’d take up the challenge and let you know how government uses innovations from digital communities to grow a social media education and training program that provides more opportunities than ever for agencies to share, learn and measurably improve our programs for citizens. And by more we mean almost four times more with the same resources.

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Updating Blog Comment Policies

The difference between only distributing an online press release and opening up the benefits from a blogging community can be found in how your agency encourages and manages comments and engagement. An easily-referenced comment policy lets authors and contributors know what your agency’s guidelines are in order to maintain an open, safe collaboration space. For example, here is a recently updated blog comment policy: “In order to foster an engaging digital environment, we reserve the right to restrict comments that are generally understood as any of the following:

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Advancing Forward: Best of Social Media in 2013 and Beyond

It was a very good year, as Frank Sinatra sang, in the field of social media for the federal government. Advances were made not only in the technologies applied by agencies, but also the policies and strategies that unlock their potential to improve services and reduce costs. I’d like to share with you just some of the programs that made 2013 a very good year for the SocialGov community, what the challenges are that we’ll face in the coming year, and also give you insight into what to expect in 2014 as we overcome those emerging challenges together with you.

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Best Week Ever in #SocialGov: December Edition

_(This is the next installment of an ongoing series charting the programs, events and people that make the emerging field of social media and data in government an exciting place to serve the public. Agencies are encouraged to submit their own stories for this travelogue of digital innovation.)_ From where I sit, there’s no better way to wrap up a great year than by taking a look at the future of emerging digital government with the #Socialgov Community.

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Facebook News Feed Algorithm Update: What You Need to Know

Facebook announced they are refining their algorithm this week to better identify and promote quality news content. This can and will affect your strategic performance, but what exactly makes “quality” content and how can your agency ensure they are on the winning side of this adjustment? We talked with Facebook about the changes, and the bottom line line is that these improvements will make it harder for organizations to clutter news feeds and cheat their way to engagement metrics.

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Next SocialGov Summit: Challenge and Prize Competitions

A public prize spurred Charles Lindbergh tofly across the Atlantic, and this week social media managers across government will help a new generation of prize competitions take flight. These sessions aren’t just for social media managers who have held a challenge or are planning one — they are for any social media manager who wants to learn how strategy and performance analysis can be used to support emerging technology programs within their agencies.

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Hosting Successful Federal Twitter Chats

One way to leverage Twitter, beyond the basics of sending messages and engaging in dialogue, is to organize a Town Hall discussion, or Twitter chat. New guidance on preparing a live chat is now available, and we need your agencies to contribute your own policies and experiences to make it complete. So let’s start by identifying the key ingredients to most effectively engage with citizens and make your Twitter Town Hall a success.

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Twitter Chat Guidance for Federal Agencies

A Twitter town hall, or Twitter chat, is an event where agencies invite public engagement for a scheduled time period during which users can ask questions or find out more information about a topic via Twitter, much like a webinar. The questions are tagged with a pre-designated hashtag, and the agency responds to questions using the hashtag, follows-up via a blog post, or uses another digital means of meaningfully responding to the engagements.

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Best Week Ever in #SocialGov: 2

(This is the second installment of an ongoing series charting the programs, events and people that make the emerging field of social media and data in government From where I sit, I think we just had a great week in #socialgov. From a sold-out international forum that demonstrated how we can use free tools to host a world-class event, to milestones in the Defense community and new colleagues in Italy, there are no shortage of great things happening in federal social media — and it will only get better next week.

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Best Week in SocialGov Ever: 1

(This is the first installment of an ongoing series charting the programs, events and people that make the emerging field of social media and data in government an exciting place to serve the public. Agencies are encouraged to submit their own stories for this travelogue of digital innovation.) From where I sit, I think we recently had the best week in #socialgov yet. Between the Library of Congress’ new Innovation Talks, the chance to learn from Saudi Arabian digital artists from halfway around the world, and now looking forward to a groundbreaking new event with Social Media Club DC, whatever comes to mind that week is hard to beat — and it will only get better next week.

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SocialGov Summit Diagnoses Viral Gov

The social media landscape changes every day, and viral content heralds trends to come. Government must learn to adapt in order to deliver more effective and efficient services for citizens. At this SocialGov Summit we explored the world of Viral Government and continue our efforts to bring the most advanced capabilities and strategies to agencies’ missions. Take a look at the presentation from TSA’s blogger Bob on how they respond to viral content and make their content interesting and learn how you can do the same.

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Take Your Social Media Program From Rags to Riches

Are you a small or even one-deep government social media team who wonders how with limited resources you can still deliver the program citizens need? Do you have a larger team but still want to know how you can roll up your sleeves and make a change? If either of these or anything in between is you, then take a look at the webinar on how to take your limited social media program from “rags to riches.

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Government Must Respond Rapidly to Social Media Hacking

[Editor’s note: Please watch the Jan. 15 , 2015, webinar onHow Government Can Prepare for and Respond to Social Media Hacks. on our Youtube channel] The hacking of an Associated Press news account on Twitter this week, and its fallout, underscored the need for agencies to prepare for similar obstacles. Especially in public service, misinformation from rogue accounts can create damaging impact. Following these steps can help you mitigate the risk of not only rogue posts from your own account, but also respond to rogue posts from outside accounts that could harm your mission.

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Social Media Metrics for Federal Agencies

Social media is transforming how government engages with citizens and how it delivers service. Agencies are using social media to share information and deliver service more quickly and effectively than ever before. Increasingly, these tools are also being used for predictive and sentiment analysis—using the vast amount of real-time data from these social platforms to predict emerging trends and respond to them quickly (referred to as “social data”).

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#SocialGov Summit Highlights Accessibility Challenges

The recent #SocialGov Summit on accessibility of government social media raised emerging issues faced by agencies in their effort to make sure the information citizens need is communicated to them when and how they need it. For many, the most eye opening exercise was simply to hear their tweets read back to them through an iPhone VoiceOver screen reader, experiencing firsthand how vision-impaired citizens receive their content. While we’ll share more from the summit in an extended post, here are some initial key takeaways from among the hundred participants:

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Feds Shed Light on Dark Social

“Dark Social” media took the web by storm this week, unveiling to many the shadows in measuring your social media impact. This accounts for the majority of your traffic and yet lives untraced where standard metrics fear to tread (or simply cannot) — places like email and instant messaging. Alexis Madrigal, senior editor of The Atlantic, proposed last week in a post: “The sharing you see on sites like Facebook and Twitter is the tip of the ‘social’ iceberg.

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Social Data Unlocked for Next Generation Services

Today at the#SocialGov Summit for Social Media Week DC, we’ll showcase two new initiatives for citizens, agencies and small businesses that help unlock the full potential of social data for the next generation of government services and engagement. Leading innovators in government will also be on hand to show how social data is empowering them to improve federal programs. The first initiative is the release of new baseline social media metrics for federal agencies “Social Media Metrics for Federal Agencies”), developed by the Federal Social Media Community of Practice.

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