Nepal earthquake – Facebook safety check, Google public alerts #smem

disaster, emergency management, Facebook, First Responders

Today, a 7.8 earthquake with multiple aftershocks hit Nepal. In the past, Google and Red Cross offered the opportunity with their apps to check in on people and to mark oneself with “I’m ok”.

Google Public Alerts page

Google Public Alerts

When you search on Google for Nepal earthquake, the site displays a public alert in bright orange featuring the main pieces of information needed: impact, tips from, selected tweets related to the tweets from vetted sources, such as the Indian Red Cross, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies,  and major news outlets.

Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, posted a note indicating the launch of a new feature as well. I am connected to people who are in the region  it truly provided peace of mind when they both checked themselves in as safe. My notifications popped up with a green button allowing me to see that they marked themselves as safe. The good people at Twitter didn’t seem to jump on the bandwagon. They usually they set up pages to display all relevant information in one place for big events, such as elections or the Superbowl. Disappointed that they are not supportive.

Facebook Safety Check

Facebook Safety Check 


The social media dance around the VP pick

Barack Obama, Election 2012, Facebook, Politicians on social networking sites, Presidential campaign, Presidential Elections, social media, Social media strategy, Twitter, Vice-President Pick

On Friday night the news broke, that the Romney campaign was planning to reveal the vice-president in a live TV covered event at 9:05am the next day. Within a few hours however, all major news-outlets stated “Mitt Romney picks Paul Ryan”. There was no question mark, no speculation. Only these plain statements – quoting sources close to the campaign.

Online, there was however very little indication on 8/9/12 that the information was leaked: The USA Today/Twitter Election meter showed negative sentiments towards both candidates at an all time low (since #Twindex data was revealed to the public): Obama 20; Romney 12. This number was stable until late Saturday evening when the Twitter index was finally updated – which seems to happen only once per day: Obama 32; Romney 39.

As a result, people were buying shares for their favorite veep pick, Paul Ryan on the Intrade prediction market. Ryan was favorited by 95% of the buyers:

On Saturday morning social media came into play. Romney’s Twitter account officially confirmed his pick – even before he went on stage in Norfolk, VA:

An hour later, Paul Ryan’s newly established Twitter account confirmed the news as well:

The account name “@PaulRyanVP” was initially not verified by Twitter and it took the company a few hours to add the blue checkmark to the account. As a result the followers jumped up from a handful to several thousands. Controversy around the account’s name eluded people to the fact that Paul Ryan already labels himself (or let’s say his campaign team labels him) VP = Vice-president. People are asking legitimate questions, as the following tweet by Chris Geidner shows:

Romney campaign aide Beth Myers confirmed in a statement to the press, that Romney had already made his pick earlier in August, after he returned from his first visit abroad. She presented the campaign’s strategy on how they kept the decision under wraps right after the announcement to the press.

@140Elect reports that the @PaulRyanVP Twitter account was created on August 2, 2012 which confirms that the VP decision has already been made weeks ago. It is unclear however why the campaign chose to reveal the candidate two weeks later, on a war ship at a time when only half of the country can watch the news at 9:00am on a Saturday morning.

During the exciting events of the day, other social media tools were ignored by the campaign.  As an example, the iPhone app “America’s Comeback Team” did not inform its users as advertised. Instead, the screen stayed blank even after the world heard the announcement, as this screenshot from Anthony De Rosa shows:










Twitter was also the first place where the campaign’s logo was revealed – on @PaulRyanVP’s account:









The Romney campaign clearly had their sight set on Twitter and ignored Facebook – the Paul Ryan Vice-President Facebook account was established just an hour before the official announcement.

At the end of the day, the futures markets weren’t impressed by the Vice-President pick. As an example, the Iowa Electronic Market for the 2012 US Presidential Election Vote Share Market still lists a win by the democratic candidate at 60%:

Facebook lessons tweeted from GSA’s #SocialGov event

Facebook, frequency of interactions, Government 2.0, social media

I couldn’t keep my eyes off the #socialgov Twitter stream today: GSA was hosting a government-only social media day with great guest speakers from Facebook, Twitter, and Google. The participants were very generous and tweeted soundbites from the speakers. I am linking to a few tweets here to share them with others outside Twitter and the federal government. Btw – follow all of them – always great insights and interesting social media innovations:

Facebook’s Katie Harbarth provided the following insights for community pages:

Facebook’s new roles for pages

Facebook, Government 2.0, Social media roles, Social networking services, Web 2.0

Facebook has introduced new roles for pages (see graphic). The manager of a page can assign the following roles:

  • Content Creator
  • Moderator
  • Advertiser
  • Insight Analyst

What is unclear to me is that the manager of the page does not have the same rights as the other roles and is not able to create content, edits the page, add apps, respond to and delete comments, send message, create ads, or view insights. It’s probably a typo or formatting issue of the table and does not reflect the actual functions those different roles can perform. Moreover, why shouldn’t manager know exactly what the impact of the site is? This is where top management needs to be informed: Help people understand that the organization’s social media efforts are making an impact and in case they don’t, initiate changes in the organizational social media tactics.

Especially for local government agencies defining 5-6 different roles might not be necessary. In my experience, even in larger federal agencies, there is usually only a small group of people who are responsible for updating the organizational page.

Navy recommends LinkedIn for employees

Facebook, Government 2.0, LinkedIn, Navy, networking, online networking, online ties







I came across this SlideShare presentation today via FedScoop and think it is worth sharing: The Navy recommends to use LinkedIn (I assume as opposed to Facebook) as a way to tell the story of the Navy in an online environment where professionals share information. They recognize that many thousands of professionals use LinkedIn as a place for their up-to-date online resumes. Moreover, Navy employees can join groups to discuss topics of interest, to learn from each other for professional development purposes or even search for new jobs.

A disclaimer reminds Navy employees to keep privacy and OPSEC in mind when interacting online.

Here is the full presentation:



White House crowdsourcing effort to understand their audiences’ social media needs

Barack Obama, Blogs I read, crowdsourcing, Facebook, Government 2.0, Open Government Initiative, social media, Twitter, Web 2.0

The White House has recently asked its Facebook fans and Twitter followers to provide feedback on their social media activities. As an example, Twitter users were asked to fill out a short survey (see article in InformationWeek).!/whitehouse/status/77422988332498944

After reviewing the feedback, the White House published what they extracted from their fans and followers in a blog post. The GSA New Media Twitter account states that the most surprising finding was that half of the White House followers on Twitter are +50 years old (although the number does not indicate the follower age group, but reflects the age of the respondents only):!/GovNewMedia/status/80288588260065281

Here are the main findings:

Here are a few interesting things we’ve learned:

* 50% of Facebook survey respondents were over the age of 50, with another 35% between 35 and 49. Our Twitter audience is younger, with only 32% of respondents over the age of 50. A combined 62% are over the age of 35.

* 62% reported visiting our Facebook page at least once a week. However, 93% say they read tweets from us at least once a week.

* A much larger percentage of our Twitter survey respondents are active on Facebook (80% of Twitter followers use Facebook weekly) than our Facebook respondents reported being active on Twitter (30% of Facebook fans use Twitter weekly).

* Over 50% of respondents from both surveys reported never using Flickr, LinkedIn and social bookmarking sites (such as Digg, Reddit, and Delicious).

* 64% said that the frequency of our Facebook posts is “About Right,” with 31% wanting more, and only 5% saying that it’s “Too Much.”

* 61% of the Twitter survey respondents report that the frequency of posting is “About Right,” with an additional 35% saying it’s “Not Enough,” and only 4% saying that it’s “Too Much.”

* Over 56% share White House Facebook posts on a monthly basis and 78% have shared at least once. However, only 35% of responders report retweeting @Whitehouse on at least a monthly basis, with only 58% having retweeted us at least once.

* The top requested content includes news-oriented posts (Breaking News, the latest news from the Administration), interactive posts (ways to engage with Administration officials, announcement of live streams, quotes from major speeches as they happen) and the Photo of the Day.

White House Facebook page
White House Twitter account

Facebook is taking over the world…

Facebook, Social networking services, social networking sites, Social Networks, Web 2.0

Take a look at the graphics by Vincenzo Cosenza published on the TechCrunch blog:

Social networking services and their worldwide adoption in 2009 and Facebook’s explosion by 2011:

(Images embedded from via Techcrunch blog)

The Council of State Governments’ report on social media use

Facebook, social media, Twitter, Web 2.0!/InesMergel/status/78982322472501248

Some of the findings include:

Facebook use:
• All 50 governors are on Facebook.
• More than one-third of state legislators across the country are on Facebook.
• Every state has at least one legislator using the social networking site.

Twitter use:
• Forty-eight governors use Twitter.
• More than 10 percent of state legislators use the service.
• More than 80 state legislative caucuses have a Twitter presence

“The Gift Relationship: From Human Blood to Social Policy” revisited for Government 2.0

citizen participation, Collaboration, Facebook, frequency of interactions, games, Government 2.0, incentives, participation

I was having lunch with a colleague of mine today and I was talking about the first results of the three studies I am working on to understand how public managers are using social media application. One of the findings is the surprisingly low number of followers and friends government agencies have on social networking sites, which means in turn, that it would be interesting to understand what incentives citizens need to participate and network with government online. Another finding in my wiki study is, that it is unclear how public employees can be incentivized to extend their current obligations and daily tasks to include additional activities using collaborative technologies, such as wikis to help their colleagues in other departments by sharing their knowledge. How do we get quality contributions from those employees in the agency who have enough institutional knowledge that would help others with unsolvable questions to find a solution? Beth Kanter points in her recent pdf talk to the fact, that Nonprofits should not leave the social media work up to their interns – just because they are tech savvy enough and are quick in handling and understanding social media doesn’t mean that they know the substance of the organization.

In trying to find a solution or approaches on how to solve these two problems, a colleague pointed me to Titmuss’ work on human blood banks: 1970, Richard Titmuss published his seminal work “The Gift Relationship: From Human Blood to Social Policy” in which he described that economic analysis has its limits when it comes to rare exchanges and gifts, such as blood. Titmuss showed in his work that in crisis situations (or shortages of human blood) the prize for blood goes up: blood banks are willing to pay or raise the prize they pay donors to give blood. This attracts those people who don’t necessarily give blood for the purpose of serving a higher good (and who are usually donating), but those who otherwise don’t donate and are desperately attracted by the additional income. Which in turn means that those are people with a diet that might not include expensive whole foods, but a rather high degree of processed foods and who are therefore prone to have a lower blood quality and potentially diseases. The result in short is: The quantity of new blood supply rises, but the quality overall is lowered.

The connection I see between the blood bank insights and incentives to network/share/collaborate/engage using social media is, that while it is really helpful to show that a specific government agency is able to attract a significant number of followers or friends on a social networking site, the mere quantity and even the measurement of hits won’t deliver the insights that are necessary to understand if we are making a (quality) difference using social media. We want to reach those citizens with valuable insights, who don’t have the time to come to town hall meetings because of their family status, work schedules, kids, etc. and not only the usual suspects who always show up but don’t deliver additional insights. Social media channels might help to reach those who are unreachable through traditional forms of engagement.

We will need to design incentives in ways that help to attract those public employees who have insights that are valuable, give them the time and acknowledgment of their expert status so that they are able to squeeze the time in to help others and make it worth their effort. I have been thinking a lot about personnel evaluations, but I believe that indirect incentives might do the trick: free up time to collaborate and share knowledge by hiring additional help, giving people an extra day off (without a pay-cut of course), etc. It seems as if a lot of Gov2.0 folks are also thinking about games, such as incentives that flow through the social network and build participation pressure, such as Zynga’s Farmville or Foursquare’s badges.

I don’t have a fully thought-out solution to offer at the moment, but am in the process of developing a framework to measure trust, impact, reach, sentiments and quality of contributions on social networking sites in the public sector. Stay tuned for updates!

Govt 2.0: From Tools to Policy to Convergence (crossposting)

Adoption of new technology, Blogs I read, Collaboration, Diffusion of innovation, Facebook, Government 2.0, Information Management, Innovation, networking, online networking, Open Government

Crossposted from Bill Greeves’ blog:

As I think back over the past two years, specifically with my involvement in the world of Government 2.0, I can’t help but think its adoption has coalesced into three phases. Nearly all of us have experienced some aspect of Phase I: Tools. What is Government 2.0? How does Twitter work? What good is Facebook? Phase I is very hands-on and experiential. It consists of learning the technologies that provide a foundation for Govt2.0 adoption. Many of the 2.0 movers and shakers might consider Phase I old news. But the truth is that when you look at government organizations as whole, particularly those of us at the local level, most are still in this phase – conducting experiments, discussing with peers, working on buy-in from our organizations, etc.

A small percentage of us have taken the next big step to Phase II: Policy. Phase II, which I highlighted in an entry a few months back, is focused on the larger, more extensive issue of the “how” of government 2.0. The effective policies cover such delicate topics as ownership, legal responsibilities, message consistency, etc. It answers sometimes difficult questions. Who will manage these tools? What can we tolerate in terms of two-way communication and feedback? Which tools will we deploy? The numbers of social media “policies” that address these issues continue to expand at a slow but steady rate.

This brings us to the relatively uncharted waters of Phase III: Convergence – a merger of these tools and concepts with our larger organizational strategy. How do we keep the momentum going? What’s next for us if we want to truly institutionalize the use of not just the tools but more importantly the concepts and the potential they represent, such as collaboration, open government and knowledge management? How do we take that next step to integrate these tools into our organizations’ larger communications or development strategy? These are all excellent questions. And no, I don’t know the answers…yet.

That’s where you come in! Together with Ines Mergel, Assistant Professor of Public Administration at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University (and fellow MuniGover!), I’d like to request your participation in a very brief online survey to help us develop some empirical data on this very subject. Once we can get a snapshot of where we are today, we intend to develop some analysis on where the gaps are and how we can overcome them.

When completed, we plan to do a seminar to review and discuss the results with anyone interested. I expect that we’ll also be able to share some best practices and lessons learned from the experience that will likely also help you take your own organization to the next level of engagement and implementation.

So please, take a moment to answer these few simple questions – share your pain, share your success!