Here is the executive summary of the report:
Twitter—a microblogging service that allows for short updates of 140 characters—has grown to over 540 million registered accounts as of early 2012.News organizations, corporations, and the U.S. government have adopted this new practice as an innovative form of interaction with their stakeholders. Many government agencies maintain at least one Twitter account, and even multiple accounts, based on their operational needs and their diverse audiences .It can be unclear to government Twitter users what the best strategies are for interacting with the public on Twitter, and how an agency can use Twitter in a meaningful way to support its organizational mission.
Twitter updates are seen as public conversations and are increasing not only transparency and potentially accountability, but can also—when used appropriately—lead to increased inclusion of public opinion in policy formulation through information aggregation processes. Twitter can be used effectively to involve a large number of citizens and create conversations with an engaged, networked public. The outcome of these conversations can be new insights and even innovations in the public sector including suggestions on how to make government more effective, or rapidly accelerating emergency responses that help to improve public safety.
This report is based on insights gained from discussions with social media directors in U.S. federal government agencies and observations of their daily Twitter tactics. Part I provides an overview of current strategies for using Twitter to interact with citizens. Four main strategies are identified:
• Customer service
In addition, hands-on best practices are presented for both public managers and social media administrators.
Twitter is still a relatively new tool. The platform frequently changes and features are added or moved, so government organizations need to be flexible and react to the changes. Suggestions on how to overcome both the technological and behavioral challenges are provided, and examples of best practices show how agencies have overcome these hurdles.
It will be important for the future use of social media in the public sector to show how investments in content curating and online interactions affect a government organization. Current measurement techniques are provided to help social media managers create a business case for the effective use of social media.
- Link to the report page on IBM’s website
- Link to radio interview with Federal News Radio, May 14, 2012
- Link to Joseph Marks’ article in Nextgov: Think before your tweet, May 14, 2012
- Link to Alice Lipowicz’s article in Federal Computer Week: Which federal agency packs the most online punch?, May 14, 2012
- Link to Alice Lipowicz’s article in Federal Computer Week: EPA offers Twitter response cheat sheet for unsure tweeters, May 16, 2012