There are 11.7 million + reasons to be on Twitter—the approximate number of Hispanics in the U.S. who are using the platform. And out of those 11.7 million, 43% tweet in English and in Spanish. Hispanics over index their counterparts when it comes to digital technologies and services, but how do you reach them and target your messages via Twitter chats? On December 9, USAGov and Salud Today led a DigitalGov University webinar to discuss how to organize, plan, and execute a successful bilingual Twitter chat.
I work for the Department of Veterans Affairs in a national benefits office that oversees Veterans life Insurance programs. Our office has held a couple of successful Twitter Town Halls. They get a little smoother each time because we make a point of adjusting our style based on our lessons learned. After answering a question about Twitter Town Halls on a listserv, DigitalGov.gov asked if I would write a blog about my experience.
Twitter polls allow you to tweet out simple A or B style opinion polls. These polls can spark some great engagement, but you’ll want to keep a few things in mind before getting started: To stay within the social media general solicitations of feedback exemption to the Paperwork Reduction Act, we need to make sure that we’re using polls to get low stakes, voluntary input from users. Keep your polls fairly light and avoid asking about anything that will be used in the creation of formal policy or rule making.
On September 1, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) hosted our first Twitter Office Hours, a Twitter chat for USCIS customers. The purpose of this pilot event was to offer our customers a different way to engage with us. We aimed to leverage Twitter to answer questions on our agency’s programs and policies and to counter rumors and incorrect information that exist in the public sphere. We were inspired to launch this event after hearing about the popular Office Hours hosted by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) team at the Department of Education.
Hispanics are one of fastest growing demographics in the U.S. But like any demographic, there are important nuances to consider when connecting with this audience. Insight into your audience’s motivations, behavior and preferences is key for anyone trying to engage with the public. We know every day that more and more Hispanics are on social media, but on which platforms?, Where are they participating? And more importantly, in what language?
First, McDonald’s started serving breakfast all day. Now, Twitter announced it is dropping its 140 character limit for tweets. Black is white, up is down. Or is it really that big a deal? Is Twitter just keeping itself relevant in the battle for your content? LinkedIn and Facebook were first with their strong push for organizations to stop linking to content on their platforms and actually generate original content there.
Well, it’s here: October 21, 2015. While Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) and Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) got to experience flying cars in 1989’s part two of the Back to the Future trilogy, we, on the other hand, are not quite there—yet! As the White House notes, we have come a long way in the past 30 years since the original Back to the Future came out in 1985, and #BackToTheFutureDay is a great opportunity to talk about where we’re going in the next 30.
As of 2015, Millennials spent 30% of their time consuming user-generated content (UGC), and 54% of that group find UGC more trustworthy than content generated by a specific brand. This covers everything from user-generated reviews on Yelp! to short-form videos. Another benefit of UGC is that it helps crowdsource the burden of feeding the content beast and can allow you to more fully engage not only with your customers, but with other staff within your agency that may not be a part of a typical content creation regime.
On DigitalGov, we frequently talk about some of the most popular app experiences, and research almost always shows that mobile messaging and social apps are the most frequently used. Pew Research released a new report specifically about these wildly popular channels for mobile engagement, specifically focused on how youth use them, with some interesting results that government agencies should pay attention to for their digital strategies. The report author, Maeve Duggan, said, “The results in this report reflect the noteworthy and rapid emergence of different kinds of communications tools serving different social needs.
Planning your next national park adventure (from the comfort of your couch) is easier than ever with a new website, Find Your Park.com. Launched on April 2nd, the mobile-friendly FindYourPark.com was designed and launched by the National Park Foundation (NPF), the non-profit organization affiliated with the National Park Service (NPS). The website is part of the celebration campaign for NPS’s centennial in 2016. Nana Efua Embil, Assistant Centennial Coordinator for NPS, said that the goal of the FYP website aligns with the overall NPS centennial goal: connecting with and creating the next generation of park visitors, supporters, and advocates.
When one thinks of social media, usually it is thought of as a tool to keep in touch with friends and family. Behind all the social networking lies vast amounts of data that can be used in a multitude of ways. This data is an opportunity for government agencies to improve the services they provide to the public. There are a number of agencies that are using social media data in order to improve services and cut costs.
Twenty years ago, the chances of watching an NBA game with commentary in a language other than English were small. Today, the NBA transmits games in 47 languages to 215 countries across the world. This is a perfect example of how organizations have evolved over time to meet the demands of their audiences. Evidence like this is the reason many government agencies have launched social media accounts and other digital content dedicated to a Spanish-speaking audience.
Armed with a smartphone instead of a badge, ordinary Americans are helping law enforcement officers capture child predators. After exhausting all investigative leads, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents turn to the public for help to locate fugitive child predators through the Operation Predator smartphone app and social media outreach. And it’s working. Since Operation Predator launched for iPhones in September 2013 and Android devices in Oct 2014, the app has assisted in 6 arrests on charges related to child exploitation.
There are multiple health-related Twitter chats every day of the week. There are chats focused on specific conditions, on the healthcare system, on treatments, on products and on practices. If your agency or organization is interested in leading a conversation in this sphere, it can be a challenge to have your voice heard and messages shared in an impactful way. On Wednesday, April 29, the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) held a Twitter chat on healthy aging, with a specific focus on mind and body approaches such as yoga, tai chi, and meditation.
May is #WorldTradeMonth and each year the U.S. Trade and Development Agency celebrates the month by highlighting the partnerships it has with 39 state and local organizations that promote U.S. exports in their home states through an initiative called #MakingGlobalLocal. What that means is that those 39 organizations with social media accounts, especially Twitter, will get mentioned in posts each day and may potentially share what USTDA tweets to their followers.
Mobile video is starting to hit its second wave for both consumption and creation, and government agencies can prepare now to ride this new channel for mobile and social engagement. Fueled by mobile bandwidth and cellular stability steadily increasing and consumers’ comfort with larger mobile devices fueling more video watching on mobile, a plethora of social apps now allow you to live stream and watch on mobile devices.
Multilingual does not always mean multiple accounts or websites. Increasingly, multilingual content is delivered in an integrated way, with two (or more!) languages delivered on the same website, app, or social media platform. The World Digital Library (WDL) is one example of how multiple languages can be incorporated on single platforms. The WDL is a hub for cultural artifacts that includes books, manuscripts, maps, newspapers, journals, photographs, sound recordings, and films.
Sharing Social Media Strategies: The National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace Program Office
Creating a tweet, posting a photo, or updating a status may take mere seconds. However, a well-thought-out social media strategy is needed for long-term success. In fact, the recently released U.S. Public Participation Playbook mentions strategy in its very first play: clearly define and communicate your objectives. Knowing what you hope to accomplish and how you want to get there is imperative, and social media is no exception.
Like private sector organizations, U.S. public sector organizations have experienced shifts in how they use both the Internet and social media to interact with the public. The mid-1990s onwards saw an increase in the number of websites helping individual members of the public learn more about various public sector organizations and initiatives directly from the organizational source, instead of having to go in-person to a library or view microfiche.
Myth-busting isn’t just for television. And through a multi-faceted, tech-savvy campaign based on strategic partnerships, one federal office has found a winning strategy for combating misinformation. National Drug Facts Week (NDFW) is a health awareness week for teenagers, with the goal of debunking myths about drugs. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the National Institutes of Health, organizes the week and reaches teens in a relevant, engaging way.
As we all continue to wrestle with the “content beast”, one effective method for generating ideas for content and fleshing out an editorial calendar is to look for trending events or even upcoming holidays. In the spirit of full disclosure, the idea behind this particular post was inspired by the back-to-back Valentine’s Day and Presidents’ Day holidays (I decided to skip “Do a Grouch a Favor Day”). But its not as simple as picking a holiday or event and then just running with it.
DC was the Silicon Valley of the 1880’s. And Alexander Graham Bell? He was more than just a telephone man. His Volta Laboratory was the premier 19th century innovation center. The work of Bell and his contemporaries is the focus of a new exhibition at Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History (NMAH), “Hear My Voice: Alexander Graham Bell and the Origins of Recorded Sound.” Included in the exhibit are never-before-seen lab documents as well as early recording discs.
As agencies strive for success in digital government, they often need to open their virtual doors and meet the public in new and evolving spaces. Federal Student Aid meets its audience in the 21st century public square at monthly #AskFAFSA sessions. During the live Twitter chat, students, parents and the general public can submit questions about financial aid using the #AskFAFSA hashtag. The event is held on the last Wednesday of each month, and questions are answered from the @FAFSA Twitter account from 5 pm until 6 pm, EST.
When it comes to implementing a social media strategy, determining how to measure success can be challenging. Yes, knowing how many followers and likes you have is beneficial. However, to really get valuable results from the trove of social media data monitor, social media managers first need to understand what they are measuring and why. When you know your goals, you can determine what channels you will use to get there.
The Office of the Federal Register’s mission “informs citizens of their rights and obligations, documents the actions of Federal agencies, and provides a forum for public participation in the democratic process.” As the winner of the Bright Idea Award, FederalRegister.gov is clear and easy to use, but most citizens rarely frequent it. More frequently they start searching for information on Google or on agency websites, where it is more difficult to discover pertinent rules and regulations.
Content is no longer limited to your .gov website. Social media accounts also contain a treasure trove of information relevant to your site’s visitors. Keeping that in mind, DigitalGov Search has worked to bring all your content, wherever it is, to your search results. Finding something you didn’t know you were looking for is the best form of discovery, so make sure there are ample opportunities to find your content in all its forms.
If you haven’t heard about @congressedits yet, it’s a Twitter bot that was recently created to tweet out every anonymous edit made to Wikipedia from Congressional IP addresses. So, anyone editing articles on Wikipedia without logging in, and doing this while on Congressional Internet access, will have those changes tweeted (like this). Some of these have been productive and some embarrassing, but, in the past, some edits from Congress have been described on Wikipedia as politically motivated and even libelous.
The Web now contains over 1.51 billion pages of content, according to WorldWideWebSize.com. That’s a lot of reading material, and a lot of content competing with yours for attention. People won’t waste time (even a few seconds) on an article that doesn’t matter to them in some way—not when there are so many other interesting things to read on the Web. But what makes something “tweet-worthy?” What can you do to capture your audience’s attention and entice them to share broadly in their networks?
On Friday, we made a big change over on the USA.gov blog—we turned off the ability for people to comment on our posts. Now before you all start looking at me like I have five heads and wondering what Koolaid I’m drinking, let me explain our reasoning. We’ve had comments on blog.usa.gov since it launched in March of 2011, and our previous blog—GovGab—always had commenting too. I mean, commenting was one of the things that made a blog different from a regular old website right?
“There’s an app for that.” New data from app analytics provider Flurry on mobile app usage reveals that smartphone users are taking this trademarked slogan to heart. Of the 2 hours and 42 minutes per day that a typical user is on a mobile device, mobile app usage accounts for 2 hours and 19 minutes of that time. In other words, app usage accounts for nearly 86 percent of time spent on a mobile device.
On this Earth Day, federal social media managers are hard at work, sharing and promoting what government and citizens can do to protect the environment. We’ve compiled a sample of the activities that also show how different agencies are using different social media tools in support of a common goal. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been leading the way all month, hosting Twitter chats every Tuesday at 2pm EDT, with the hashtag #ActOnClimate.
Earlier this month, stock photo giant Getty Images launched an embedded photo viewer, that permits sharing millions of its’ copyrighted images for free. The news generated headlines and questions about whether it’s okay for government content producers to use the tool. From Getty’s perspective, the answer is yes. The company’s main restriction is that the images be used for editorial, non-commercial purposes and government content meets this criteria.
For the last several years the National Weather Service has been rolling out social media accounts for all of their 122 field offices. Each office now has a Facebook page, Twitter handle and YouTube account to better communicate our life saving messages to the public. As these accounts were being rolled the NWS did some basic training on how to use Facebook and Twitter, but it soon became clear that more in-depth training was needed to help NWS forecasters best use their new social media platforms.
NOAA National Weather Service Meteorologist Twitter Use Shows that All Government Employees are Communicators
During the run up to a recent winter storm, Twitter was aflutter with reports of 20-30 inches of snow falling across wide swaths of the Midwest. Unfortunately for snow lovers, those rumors were highly speculative and unfounded. That didn’t stop members of the public from contacting their local National Weather Service (NWS) Weather Forecast Office (WFO) with questions about the storm, so NWS Meteorologist Mike Ryan from the Indianapolis WFO used his office’s Twitter account to inform the public that “Rumors of 20-30″ of #snow are EXTREMELY premature & improbable and not supported by fcst model data at this time.
It’s one of the most important words to a federal social media account manager and knowing who to talk to can sometimes make or break a communications campaign. The idea of making sure your social media accounts are reaching key constituents and members of the general public certainly isn’t new. DigitalGov University (DGU) offers a variety of webinars and training seminar regarding digital media and citizen engagement. But what about engaging other federal agencies?
In this time of tight travel budgets, not everyone can make it to every event or conference they’d like to attend. Luckily, Twitter has made it easier to share events through live tweeting. Live tweeting is using Twitter to report on an event, speech, or presentation as it is happening. When done right, live tweeting can help followers feel like they’re actually a part of the event.
Last week, Twitter introduced media.twitter.com featuring best practices and success stories to help government leverage the power of Twitter. Many best practices were covered including: How to break the news with Twitter Alerts How to get the most from Twitter Town Halls, and Why live tweeting is important Twitter says: As Twitter’s role in the media world continues to grow and evolve, we wanted to create a place where people and companies from the worlds of TV, sports, journalism, government, music, faith and nonprofits could have self-service access to ways to increase their impact in the global town square.
More users are now accessing social media via mobile than on desktops. People are checking email or using social networks during their commute, in line at the grocery store, or waiting at the doctor’s office. MarketingResearch.org recently covered the topic and UnifiedSocial created the infographic in the post (click it to get full version) around trends in social and mobile. Here are some key stats: Mobile users are nearly twice as likely to share content on social networks as desktop users Global shipments of tablets will eclipse PCs in 2015 78% of US Facebook users access via mobile at least once a month 60% of Twitter users access via mobile at least once a month Mobile users are 66% more likely to retweet content than web users.
A report by the PEW Research Center, 12 trends for shaping digital news, looks at how the internet and digital devices are changing news consumption habits. While half of all Americans still prefer to get their news from television and print, younger Americans cite the Internet as their main source for national and international news. Findings from the report include: 50% of the public now cites the internet as a main source for national and international news 71% of those 18-29 cite the internet as a main news source 19% of Americans saw news on a social network “yesterday” in 2012 64% of tablet owners and 62% of smartphone owners said they got news on their devices in 2012 31% of tablet news users said that they spent more time with news since getting their device, and 34% of the Twitter discourse about Hurricane Sandy was news and information The report also cites ‘grazing’ the news has become more popular with younger adults and online readers who get their news when they want on mobile devices compared to older adults who get their news at regular times.
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.
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.
USA.gov and GobiernoUSA.gov have been engaging with the public on social media long before Mayor Cory Booker underscored the need at this year’s SXSW. In January 2010, we began to respond to questions and comments on our Facebook and Twitter accounts. We never advertised the service, but people naturally had questions for the government and we answered — to the tune of more than 300 questions in 2010. Not long after we started answering questions, it became clear that our two-person pilot program wasn’t robust enough to keep up with demand, so we instituted a more formal, but flexible system.
To enhance security, Twitter now offers two-step verification. The release of the new feature follows several high-profile account breaches – including a false tweet sent from the Associated Press’s Twitter account in April. If you chose to enable the two-step verification feature, Twitter sends a text message with a unique code to a cell phone that must be entered to continue the login process. This extra step is simple and provides another important layer of protection for your account.
In helping support the social media team at the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), we have been hosting monthly Twitter Chats since March 2012. The topics of these chats have covered a wide variety of complementary health approaches including: Yoga Meditation Acupuncture Dietary supplements Over the past six months, our Twitter Chat program has evolved to include partnerships with other NIH Institutes and Centers on topics that overlap with their research portfolios.
[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.