Government Applications of Social Media

The power of social media could be quickly applied to improving government services at every level. It could make governments more open, in terms of distributing government information, increasing accessibility to documents, inviting citizen input, and engaging citizens in service projects. Collaboration and participation could improve communities, increase government efficiency, and raise effectiveness.

The potential opportunities include dissemination of government information by use of blogs, micro-blogs, texting (SMS), wikis, podcasting, and mashups. In addition, media dissemination tools that promote photo, video, slide, audio, and data sharing could also be used to disseminate information as President Obama has done through YouTube video postings.

Efficiencies might come through lower expenses for information dissemination, reduced procurement costs, better coordination among government agencies, and higher quality services delivered more rapidly.

However, there are impediments to government use of social media based on historical avoidance, legal restrictions, lack of knowledge, inadequate resources, and little experience. A thoughtful analysis by the Federal Web Managers Committee discusses ten issues with solutions, points to successful examples, and promotes expanded usage.

Social Media and the Federal Government:
Perceived and Real Barriers and Potential Solutions
(December 23, 2008)
Social Media and the Federal Government: Perceived and Real Barriers and Potential Solutions

Some Government websites that address challenges and obstacles in greater government use of social media and related websites:

Putting Citizens First: Transforming Online Government

A White Paper Written for the 2008 – 2009 Presidential Transition Team
by the Federal Web Managers Council (November 2008)

Social Media and Web 2.0 in Government

What Is Social Media and Web 2.0?
Social Media and Web 2.0 are umbrella terms that define the various activities that integrate technology, social interaction, and content creation. Social media use the "wisdom of crowds" to connect information in a collaborative manner online. Through social media, individuals or collaborations of individuals create web content, organize content, edit or comment on content, combine content, and share content. Social media and Web 2.0 use uses many technologies and forms, including RSS and other syndicated web feeds, blogs, wikis, photo–sharing, video–sharing, podcasts, social networking, social bookmarking, mashups, widgets, virtual worlds, micro–blogs, and more.
Social Media and Web 2.0 in Government

Matrix of Web 2.0 Technology and Government
(July 18, 2008)