Name Brand: Government

Government 2.5 Speaker
Scaled Image 2Jennifer Kaplan
Partner & Author of “Greening Your Small Business”
Greenhance
Can Twitter Improve Government Customer Service
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The other day I came across a blog post in OhMyGov! titled “10 Rules for being a good government Twitterer.” The author, Jenifer Reinhardt offered this observation:

A number of federal agencies and businesses are taking advantage of [Twitter] to get their information to the public in a hip and cutting-edge way, giving them access to a demographic they may otherwise not reach. When used well, Twitter can offer an agency or company that personal touch not available through a Web design and the ability to develop a personality to help branding efforts.

And there is the crux of it. Social media, and Twitter in particular, are gatherings of online brand communities. And, as Reinhardt points out, government doesn’t always think in terms of branding:

Think about your views on NASA. Now consider how you perceive FEMA. Despite both having very publicized debacles, their brands are quite different and the power of NASA’s brand allows them to continue to retain public support even in the midst of incredible tragedy and failure. The same cannot be said about FEMA and part of the reason is the manner in which these agencies regularly communicate with the public, one aspect of which now, like it or not, involves Twitter.

Clearly, public managers need to think about their “brands” and as such they need also to think in terms of customer service.  When individuals become part of a brand community they develop loyalty to that brand and, if all goes well, remain connected to the community. Twitter can extend that relationship by personalizing the messaging and facilitating a real dialogue.  Without good customer service all brands falter.

When looked at in this light, the obvious governmental uses for Twitter—emergency notification, continuity of service, etc…—are just the tip of the iceberg. In an age when public managers are caught in a “value squeeze” (trying to deliver more and better services under tighten budgets), social media is an invaluable tool.  Unlike other tools, Twitter—because of the immediacy and low barriers to entry—offers government the possibility of promoting the citizen-government relationship in an unprecedented way.  By utilizing social media tools to build relationships with stakeholders, public managers can make customer service a requirement as opposed to an option.

Our Three Most Recent Articles

Twitter Changes Everything – and Now It’s Intelligent by Beverly Macy

Eliminating the Noise for Jobseekers by Gary Zukowski

Social Media: Communicating and Organizing Tools for Community Transformation by Johnathan Holifield

 

Government 2.5 Keynote Presenter
Scaled ImageBeverly Macy
CEO
Gravity Summit
“Twitter Changes Everything”
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“Collective Intelligence (CI) is the capacity of human collectives to engage in intellectual cooperation in order to create, innovate, and invent.” - Pierre Levy + James Surowiecki + Mark Tovey

In November I wrote that it’s no secret to Twitter users that something fundamental has shifted in how we communicate and how these communications seem to form “a life of their own” in terms of reach and influence.

Now it’s official:  Twitter is Intelligent.  What does that mean?  Recently, I re-tweeted an article  by Dean Pomerleau, titled Twitter and the Global Brain.  In that article he says, “Imagine a twitter user as a neuron. He/she makes the equivalent of a synapse with each of his/her followers. When a twitter user sends out a tweet, it is the equivalent of a neuron firing. Followers who receive the tweet decide whether to propagate the activity by retweeting the message, in a sense by deciding whether they too should fire in response to the tweet.”

I talk about Twitter and the Chaos Theory – that a tweet may seem random, but in the global metadata concept it’s actually part of a dynamic system swirling across the globe. “The Chaos Theory is a branch of mathematics which studies the behavior of certain dynamical systems that may be highly sensitive to initial conditions.   This sensitivity is popularly referred to as the butterfly effect. As a result of this sensitivity, which manifests itself as an exponential growth of error, the behavior of chaotic systems appears to be random.”

As the body of metadata continues to grow, the intelligence it contains is both meaningful in real time and as a pool of research data – therefore, it is Intelligent.

Finally, there’s also a site one of my favorite bloggers, Venessa Miemis, highlights – something called IEML: information economy meta language. It’s mission is as follows:

The main mission of the Collective Intelligence Lab is to pursue theoretical, empirical and applied researches related to ieml. This general mission can be decomposed in three sub-tasks:

  • to develop the vocabulary and the grammar of the information economy metalanguage,
  • to design and build the technical and methodological tools that will encourage and spread ieml uses,
  • to exploit ieml-related tools and methods for the study of information economy, the improvement of knowledge management and the growth of collective intelligence.

So what still seems random and chaotic to most (Twitter has yet to hit it’s stride in terms of users), could actually be forming the basis for what’s next.  The value to business, education, government, and non-profits right now is to engage in this new Intelligent Twitter and seed it with both information and followers that will be important to your enterprise.  This way, you’ll have something to “mine” as in “data mining”.  Who knows where you’ll strike your ‘gold’.

As I’ve said before, , watch a huge flock of birds moving across the landscape, appearing random at first glance, but taking on an elegant and magical form as they dance through the sky.  Suddenly, their movements are coordinated and a shape and form is visible that is something more than individual birds.  They dive and glide and move in sync or not, but out of chaos is born form and function and purpose.  THIS is what’s occurring in the aggregate with global communications.  And we’re just at the beginning.

Hope to see you at Government 2.5 in DC on December 14 and 15 where I’ll talk about this at great length.

Our Three Most Recent Articles

Eliminating the Noise for Jobseekers by Gary Zukowski

Social Media: Communicating and Organizing Tools for Community Transformation by Johnathan Holifield

Can Social Media Create a Voice That Washington Can’t Ignore? by Pam Sandy

 

Government 2.5 Speaker
Scaled ImageGary Zukowski
Founder & President
TweetMyJobs
“TweetMyJOBS – Eliminating the noise on Twitter”
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(Editor’s Note: We will be focusing a large portion of Monday’s Town Hall Meeting on exploring how social media can contribute to job growth. These ideas will then be formally submitted to the White House through the current call to action on this topic from the Obama administration.)

In a mere three years, Twitter has grown from a cult-like following to become, along with Facebook and LinkedIn, one of the three pillars in the Social Media landscape.  Its’ open platform allows content to be distributed to millions of people instantly has transformed the methods and expectations of how we gather information.  The challenge, however, is making sense of the billions of tweets in the Twittersphere, and to be able to extract valuable and pertinent information.

For a jobseeker looking for employment on Twitter, this can be troublesome.  What accounts should a person follow?  How does a person know if he or she is following the correct account?  Which tweets will have jobs and which are marketing pieces in disguise? For example, by following a recruiter’s or company’s job channel a person may get job notifications, but how does one sort through the potentially thousands of job tweets, when only a few may be of interest?  How does a job seeker filter the results and get through noise?

TweetMyJobs has developed a way to eliminate this noise, and effectively distribute job openings over Twitter.  Learn what they’ve done, how they target interested job seekers with the appropriate job postings, and how they can manage a company’s brand presence for recruiting purposes.

Our Three Most Recent Articles

Social Media: Communicating and Organizing Tools for Community Transformation by Johnathan Holifield

Can Social Media Create a Voice That Washington Can’t Ignore? by Pam Sandy

Teaching Old Dogs New Tricks by Nancy Floreen

 

Government 2.5 Speaker
Scaled Image 1 Johnathan Holifield
Trim Tab Leadership
“Seeds of Innovation & Societal Progress Are Born From Collective Leadership and Connectivity”

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“Give me a place to stand on, and I will move the Earth.”

Archimedes, c. 287- c. 211 BCE

Throughout our nation, far too many communities have experienced a history of social exclusion and economic isolation. Limited private capital investments, restricted markets and high risks have led to an inadequate economic base and infrastructure, unstable incomes and low savings. Today, however, to support community transformation, citizens can add new tools to their arsenal: social media. Citizens of distressed communities now can leverage extraordinary communicating and organizing tools to create and connect with larger, more robust social, education and economic opportunities, thus helping to trigger desired community transformation scenarios.

I believe Archimedes, who wrote the earliest known rigorous explanation of the science and art of leverage, would have viewed the First Amendment to the United States Constitution as a good place to stand on; social media as an extraordinarily long lever; and collaboration as a remarkably strong prop, which, taken together, could enable him to “move the Earth.”

The same is true for community transformation. The best place for citizens to stand on is the wonderful freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment; social media can be employed as high-leverage communicating and organizing tools; and smartly collaborative efforts can enable us to “move the Earth,” or, more important, transform communities.

Community Transformation Progression

The community transformation process includes the following three stages:

  • § Dependent Communities: subsidized communities unable to optimally exist and socially and economically sustain themselves without unilateral assistance and direction from others.
  • § Independent Communities: self-sufficient communities that do not rely on others’ unilateral social and economic support to sustain themselves.
  • § Interdependent Communities: communities that reciprocally leverage each other to achieve enhanced mutual benefit, bilateral social support and economic vitality.

Effectively leveraging social media, as communication and organization tools, provides the ideal opportunity to help transform Dependent Communities into Independent Communities, and, ultimately, help them to become mutually Interdependent Communities.

Community Change Thresholds

As described by Henry Louis Taylor, Jr. and Sam Cole of the Center for Urban Studies at the University at Buffalo, the concept of community change thresholds is based on the idea that communities have both tipping points and transformation points.

Tipping Thresholds

Malcolm Galdwell’s book, The Tipping Point, popularized the phrase; however, as applied to communities, tipping points suggest that when communities on a regressive or downward trajectory pass the tipping threshold, forces of decline can greatly accelerate, propelling them toward that point beyond which a reversal of conditions or revitalization becomes extremely difficult, if not impossible.

Transformation Thresholds

Transformation points are the flip side of tipping points. Certainly, if communities have tipping thresholds, they also must necessarily have transformation thresholds. When communities on a positive or upward trajectory pass transformation thresholds, a set of multipliers and catalytic forces can activate to positively transform their physical, social, economic and political well-being and environment. In more colloquial terms, whatever goes down can surely rise up.

Triggering Community Transformation: Large Scale Communication and Organization

The solution then is to exert maximum leverage, pushing community social, political, education and economic development beyond the transformation threshold, triggering the desired community change. Achieving the necessary magnitude of leverage requires a communication and organization strategy that promotes and enables large-scale public and private sector planning, implementation and financial investments sufficient to trigger catalytic forces capable of radically, positively changing communities.

Large Scale Communication and Organization: Social Media Can Enable Smart CollaborationTM

Social media can be highly effective communication and organization tools to enable Smart CollaborationTM – defined as interconnected groups of citizens, institutions, organizations and businesses located in a certain area that are needed to achieve targeted, high-impact objectives. These efforts are distinguished from “altruistic collaboration,” collaborating without sound reason and clear necessity, or “political collaboration,” where biased or other misguided considerations determine members of the collaborative. Smart CollaborationTM is focused on who and what is needed for community transformation outcomes – nothing more, nothing less.

An important characteristic of Smart CollaborationTM is that it is centered on citizens, organizations and institutions that provide leadership and services primarily inside the community. These entities are driving forces to increase human capacity and capabilities, the most consequential of community assets.

The primary purpose for using social media to facilitate Smart CollaborationTM is to promote innovative, larger scale solutions to community challenges. Enabled by social media, in their myriad forms, Smart CollaborationTM may include government, philanthropic and not-for-profit organizations, educational institutions, businesses and business advocacy organizations, and others whose cooperation is a key to strengthen, and make more effective, such efforts.

The operational theory girding Smart CollaborationTM is that through the high-leverage communication and organization tools of social media, which can connect the market knowledge and expertise of communities’ leading and emerging citizens, organizations and institutions with the talents and resources of government, business, philanthropy, and education, large-scale, smartly collaborative efforts can further empower citizens to face and overcome the serious – and in some cases, gargantuan – obstacles to community transformation.

Social media can enable communities to rejuvenate under a new paradigm. A paradigm that fosters transformation through large-scale communication and organization, leading to Smart CollaborationTM among citizens, government, education institutions and businesses and others whose cooperation is essential to achieve the desired end.

Our Three Most Recent Articles

Can Social Media Create a Voice That Washington Can’t Ignore? by Pam Sandy

Teaching Old Dogs New Tricks by Nancy Floreen

When, Where and How Do You Engage With Your Audience by Brian Dresher

 

Government 2.5 Speaker
Scaled Image 1Pamela Sandy, CFP
CEO, President
Confiance, LLC
Subject Matter Expert on Public-Policy and Consumer Advocacy Regarding Credit, Finance & Insurance
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On Monday, September 15, 2008 we awoke to the consequences of living beyond our means with the announcement that 158 year-old Lehman Brothers was filing bankruptcy, Merrill Lynch was being purchased by Bank of America, and insurance giant AIG was going to be next. By Wednesday, it looked like the meltdown would take more victims and investors were informed that their money market funds were not so secure, as the Reserve Funds, the company that originated the money market concept, disclosed that its Primary Fund had “broken the buck” bringing the share value below $1.00 to .97 per share.

The Fed had bailed out Bear Stearns and mortgage giants Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, but the decision of the Treasury Secretary and the Fed to allow Lehman Brothers to fail, had trickled down to Main Street. Their theory that NO company was too big to fail, had in fact, FAILED. Seeing the financial abyss, the Treasury and Fed acted to stabilize the markets with the announcement of a $700 billion bailout package with taxpayers on the hook. The markets rallied on the news, and the week ended down only 33 points.

Ahhhh – the markets….. since then we have seen a low in March only to “rally” to our current levels and it seems that it’s back to business as usual. While Wall Street is contemplating their year-end bonuses, I wonder how many people you may know that have lost their jobs – how many new graduates shouldered with debt, can’t find one? My profession centers on assuring the financial futures of my clients – and I’m angry! In my 20 years within the profession I have watched Wall Street become rich, while average Americans have seen jobs disappear and basic expenses rise. Wall Street has sold the dream – and then turned it into a nightmare.

American families are struggling day to day with lost jobs, trying to educate their kids, health care costs, and unfair public policies that allow the very same banks that we bailed out to continue to make billions charging fees that are equivalent to a loan shark. Elizabeth Warren, Chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel created to oversee the banking bailouts, last week on December 3rd, posted on the Huffington Post an op-ed entitled, America Without a Middle Class, which details the decline and economic struggles of American families.

People such as David Walker, President of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation and former US Comptroller General feels so strongly about the risk to the financial future of the next generations, that he now spends his time lecturing on our national debt. This past month the Peterson Foundation, in collaboration with Mobilize.org, an organization dedicated to empowering young people, presented a three day conference in Chicago and the message was simulcast via the web for anyone to “participate”. Like me, viewers knew about the conference due to Twitter and Facebook – social media at work.

Can social media be the tool that ordinary Americans use to make their voices heard like never before? There are currently 5 financial services lobbyists in DC for every member of Congress and the health care industry is spending $1.4 million a day to keep the status quo. It’s easy for everyday Americans to believe that we have no voice against such well-financed machines. But, the campaigns of Howard Dean and Barack Obama showed that “a little from many” can make a difference.

I believe passionately that the financial planning profession is essential in the lives of not only the affluent, but those everyday individuals and families faced with important financial decisions affecting their lives.  The financial planning community has a role to play in advocating for the Middle Class, and it is my view that the profession must use its collective voice to represent the interests of the investing public. On December 5th I launched, PublicFiduciary.org, to bring together the collaborative efforts of financial professionals who support the mission of serving as the public’s fiduciary in advocating for policies that create and assure the financial security of American families.

Can Twitter, Facebook, and other social media resources bring together the voice of the Middle Class and make it heard? I SURE hope so. PublicFiduciary.org is a grass roots effort born out of the belief that social media can level the playing field for those most under-represented and create a voice that Washington can no longer ignore.

Our Three Most Recent Articles

Teaching Old Dogs New Tricks by Nancy Floreen

When, Where and How Do You Engage With Your Audience by Brian Dresher

Public Engagement: Clumsy Fingers, Steady Hands by Ted Nguyen

 

Teaching Old Dogs New Tricks

Government 2.5 Speaker
Scaled Image 2Nancy Floreen
Montgomery County Councilmember at-large
w/ Jed Millard – Aide to Councilmember Floreen
Montgomery County Government, Maryland
“Social Media & Local Government – Using Facebook, Twitter, and Blogs to Connect to Your Constituency”
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As an elected official, it’s my job to connect to my constituents. There are always mailers, signs in the yard, and good old fashioned phone calls, but in today’s world, we have Facebook, Twitter, blogs and many other similar websites and tools. The increased use of social media in our constantly connected world has presented certain challenges for local officials, especially those of us just getting the hang of our email. Thankfully, I have Jed, the designated young person on my staff, who *patiently* walks me through these things.

We started my adventure into social media with my blog, Nancy At Large, then delved into Facebook, and are now beginning our foray with Twitter. While it’s taken some time for me to get used to all the new technology, I’ve embraced it. The challenge for many of those young staffers designated as our social media gurus, is getting their bosses on board.

Those of us of a certain age can easily get intimidated by new technologies and not necessarily see the benefits they can bring us. When I launched my Facebook profile, I wasn’t expecting to find my long lost Swedish cousins, but there they were. For us folks just getting on board, when a staffer says, “Let’s set you up with a blog, Facebook profile, and Twitter account!” we hear, “Let’s add three more things I have to worry about!” At first, I didn’t realize I could post to my blog, which would automatically share with my Facebook or send out a tweet that would update my status.

Each different form of media that I use creates another way for my constituents to gain access to me. They can add me as a friend, subscribe to the blog, or follow my tweets. I love reading the comments my friends and followers leave me, and they like having their representatives accessible. I was astonished at how many more channels of communication were opened up between my constituents and me, and I value them every day.

Our Three Most Recent Articles

When, Where and How Do You Engage With Your Audience by Brian Dresher

Public Engagement: Clumsy Fingers, Steady Hands by Ted Nguyen

Actionable Intelligence by Tyler Suchman

 

Government 2.5 Speaker
Scaled Image 3Brian Dresher
Acquisition Marketing Manager
USA TODAY
“Engaging Audience and Staff in Social Media: USA TODAY’s Tips for Government Employees”
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How did you first hear about the JFK assassination, the Berlin Wall getting torn down, or 9/11? Most of us can remember exactly when, where, and how we learned the news about these and other major events. How might this change in the years to come? A not-too-distant-in-the-future answer to this question will be, “I learned about it first on Twitter.” For early adopters of Twitter or current Facebook enthusiasts, these social networks are already their primary platform for news and information consumption.

What if we were to refine that first question above? How did you first hear about Carnival announcing the name of its new cruise ship, the Tower Bridge of London opening to allow a ship to pass, or the movie reviews of “Bruno”? Clearly, these events are not nearly as momentous as the aforementioned ones, but in the age of social networks, something is breaking news for everyone and there is an audience for every topic. As a result of these new consumption patterns, brands – whether private sector or public – need to re-think when, where, and how they get their information in the hands of their target audience.

The more time that individuals spend on social networks, the greater the expectation that if something is important and relevant to their world, then it will find them instead of the other way around. Increasingly, individuals rely on their social networks more so than other sites to learn news and information that would be of interest to them regardless of whether it’s seeing a post in their feed about a new movie trailer or a breaking news event.

This would appear to present a threat to news sites, which rely on customer engagement on their sites to help with monetization. Rather, we at USATODAY.com look at Facebook and Twitter as platforms to engage with not only existing fans and followers away from USATODAY.com, but  also as ways to expand our reach to and connect with new audiences. Since users prefer to spend most of their online time on social networks, we need to be where our current and future audience is, so that when they choose to leave these social networks for a news site, we hope that USATODAY.com is a top-of-mind news brand in their consideration set.

For these reasons, government agencies face similar challenges and opportunities as a major news brand such as USATODAY.com. We both look to get key information in the hands of users who may not be aware that the information exists and upon such discovery can then act as influencers by sharing it with others.

Merely having a Facebook or Twitter presence is not enough and is not a strategy. No different than claiming that having a web site is a strategy. In order to successfully engage with users – even your most loyal ones – it is important to create an experience with your brand that is commensurate with the social network in which your brand exists.

For USATODAY.com, on Facebook this means including features and creating a community that is distinct from our web site, and on Twitter, this means interacting with other Twitterers and avoiding the churning out of only headlines in a Twitter feed.  The more in which we understand and play by the unwritten rules of social networks, the more trust and engagement we build with these audiences.

Having a plan is critical to understanding how to participate in social networks:

  1. What do you hope to achieve by having a social network presence?
  2. Who is your target audience and where do they spend their time?
  3. How will you create buy-in with internal stakeholders that this is a priority?
  4. What metrics will you use to gauge success?
  5. What resources do you have available to commit to social networking efforts?
  6. Who are your competitors and what have they done on social networks?
  7. What tools and resources will you utilize to monitor trends and adapt accordingly as social networks evolve?

Giving proper thought to these questions will help guide your efforts and allow you to maximize the opportunities of when, where, and how your current and future audience discovers and shares your content.

Please follow Brian Dresher, @bdresher, for additional insights about social media, USATODAY.com, Washington, DC, travel, and running.

 

Government 2.5 Keynote Presenter
Scaled ImageTed Nguyen
Manager of Public Communications & Media Relations
Orange County Transportation Authority
“Transforming Transportation With Social Media”
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It’s pretty easy for me to get excited about social media because it’s about the core things that I care about – communications and relationships.

I’ve been in the public relations profession for more than 15 years on both the government and business side, and have experienced firsthand how social media is transforming how we communicate with each other.

As businesses are quickly adapting to the new landscape and figuring out how to utilize social media as part of marketing communications, government is following suit. At least, that’s the prevailing thought.

An argument can be advanced that government or the presidential campaign of Barack Obama fully employed and integrated social media tools – Facebook, Twitter and YouTube – into a powerful political arsenal against John McCain last year.

Upon capturing the White House thanks to a surge in young voters who overwhelmingly broke for the Obama camp by a 2-to-1 margin, the social media savvy team delivered on their change mantra, promising accountability, openness and transparency. And in doing so, they shined the public light on an all-too bureaucratic at best and secretive process at worst.

The White House created another YouTube video that featured its new media director, Macon Phillips, sharing ways the federal government is using social media as a resource tool for citizens.

“There is so much potential for how government uses the Web. But it won’t be realized unless you step up and participate,” Phillips exclaims. “So join your government at their Web sites and blogs, through videos and photos, in social networks, widgets and so much more.”

But then the brakes came on July 24 when White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs acknowledged that the staff were blocked from Twitter. Gibbs even went further to say he did not Twitter and did not know why the executive office chose to block the popular social media site.

At least Americans outside the Oval Office had access to the official @WhiteHouse and @BarackObama Twitter accounts although their own staff from the inside did not.

The news hit home for me at the Orange County Transportation Authority, where I work as the department manager of public communications and media relations. After demonstrating the power and cost-effectiveness of social media, our communications team gained access to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other social media sites. But other employees did not have access to the same information we were sharing with our stakeholders, the news media and the general public via social media.

President Obama’s trip to China in November took on new meaning during a familiar American-style townhall meeting in the closed-society of the People’s Republic of China.

The question making headlines came from the U.S. Embassy Web site and was read by Jon Huntsman, U.S. ambassador to China. “In a country with 350 million Internet users and 60 million bloggers, do you know of the firewall?” Huntsman read. “And second, should we be able to use Twitter freely?’

In a country where the government censors Web sites and blocks Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, here is President Obama’s response: “I have never used Twitter. My thumbs are too clumsy to type in things on the phone. But I am a big believer in technology, and I’m a big believer in openness when it comes to the flow of information. I think that the more freely information flows, the stronger the society becomes, because then citizens of countries around the world can hold their own governments accountable. They can begin to think for themselves. That generates new ideas. It encourages creativity.”

The president continued by saying that he has ”always been a strong supporter of open Internet use. I’m a big supporter of noncensorship. This is part of the tradition of the United States that I discussed before, and I recognize that different countries have different traditions. I can tell you that in the United States, the fact that we have … unrestricted Internet access is a source of strength, and I think should be encouraged.”

He concluded to the crowd of 400 hand-selected students from China’s leading universities: “I should be honest, as president of the United States, there are times where I wish information didn’t flow so freely because then I wouldn’t have to listen to people criticizing me all the time … I think people naturally … when they’re in positions of power sometimes think, ‘Oh, how could that person say that about me,’ or ‘That’s irresponsible.’ … But the truth is that because in the United States information is free, and I have a lot of critics in the United States who can say all kinds of things about me, I actually think that that makes our democracy stronger and it makes me a better leader because it forces me to hear opinions that I don’t want to hear. It forces me to examine what I’m doing on a day-to-day basis to see, am I really doing the very best that I could be doing for the people of the United States.”

It wasn’t his candor of the free-flow of information (that we often take for granted as Americans), but the response that he doesn’t Twitter that caught my attention. His disclosure became a red-hot trending topic on Twitter. I also was perplexed at the huge disconnect between the White House ban of Twitter on its staff and the president’s rhetoric as he lectured the Chinese students in Shanghai on how access to information has made U.S. democracy stronger.

Are we really to believe the avid user of BlackBerry and tech-savvy president doesn’t Twitter because he has clumsy fingers? Does he not know that one can tweet from a regular-sized keyboard on a computer? And what are we to make of those highly personal posts from his @BarackObama Twitter account with more than 2.7 million followers:

  • The morning of the Nobel Peace Prize announcement, he simply wrote: “Humbled”

  • On Thanksgiving Day, he tweeted: “From my family to yours — Happy Thanksgiving.”

  • “Michelle receives this year’s White House Christmas tree yesterday. Watch the video: http://bit.ly/4o90RN” was the last tweet on Monday, Nov. 30.

Does this administration really think it can fool Americans, especially the generations that have been bombarded with marketing and advertising campaigns most of their lives that they can smell insincerity a mile away? How open, transparent or authentic is this administration if they encourage open access to government and employ ghost-twitterers to get that message out without the benefit of public disclosure, and yet the president’s spokesman doesn’t utilize social media because he said we already see enough of him during news briefings?

No matter what you think about the president, most people acknowledge that he and his team tapped into technology and harnessed the power of social media to maximize public engagement. One public relations practitioner at a recent national gathering of PR professionals even said that President Obama will be best known in history for unleashing the power of technology and bringing it into the hands of ordinary citizens to do extraordinary things.

But the true challenge is to continue to deliver on that promise of change in how government engages with its citizens. Perhaps the national setting inspires change, but its day-to-day implementation best happens at the local level in communities across America such as in Orange County. Tip O’Neill, the late speaker of the U.S. House, famously asserted, “All politics is local.” In today’s setting, it may be appropriate to say that all action is local.

I’m excited to come to Washington, D.C. for Government 2.5 to share our local story on our challenges in harnessing the power of social media, what we did to overcome numerous obstacles to build and sustain a successful new program called “Public E-volvement.”

Unlike the official White House Twitter account with more than 1.5 million followers that responds to only 2 percent, we’re doing better in Orange County albeit with a smaller but growing 15,000 followers. OCTA is responding to people 64 percent of the time. We’re trying to engage the public and build our numbers. And we’re working hard and gaining a following of other governments and public agencies to follow suit.

Abraham Lincoln said it best in the Gettysburg Address: “…that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

It’s up to all of us to read, listen, view, comment, disagree, share, participate and engage at the level of government where we can see tangible results – in the backyards of communities across America.

And it’s equally important for innovative employees in government to be brave and bold in contrast to the comfort of the status quo and actively do adventurous work for the public good – even with clumsy fingers.

 

Actionable Intelligence

Government 2.5 Speaker
Scaled ImageTyler Suchman
Partner / Chief Strategy Officer
Dennison+Wolfe Internet Group
“From the Sylmar Earthquake in 1971 Through the Hudson Bay Crash in January 2009, Follow the Evolution and Role of Social Media Through Various Emergencies and Crises”
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Ojai is a beautiful little town of 8,000 residents located 90 minutes from Los Angeles, 45 minutes from Santa Barbara and tucked up against over a million acres of national forest. In September 2006, Ojai was threatened by the Day Fire, which was moving rapidly due to heavy winds.

I had started The Ojai Post, a multi-author community blog in February of that year. By September, we had grown to a dozen authors and a few hundred page views a day. As the fire increased in proximity and intensity, I began live-blogging with official updates, important information and summaries, which would carry on for days, providing what I later found out is called “actionable intelligence” – timely information people can use to make smart decisions during a crisis.

I got “ojaipost.com” mentioned at a town hall meeting, word spread and traffic took off – in the next 24 hours, we had over 6,000 unique visitors and 15,000 page views. We quickly became the primary source of information for the Day Fire.

As traffic to the site increased, so did user participation. Comments filled the one to two daily posts which were being updated every 5-10 minutes, and users were emailing me reports and photos. At times I had better information than the Ventura County Emergency Operations Center, which forced me to decide how to filter and present information to our readers in a way that provided the best and most recent information without causing undue alarm.

Emerging out of the experience, I received a fair amount of press and was brought in to county-level discussions with agency heads, politicians and the military around information dissemination and decentralization during times of crisis.

In late 2007, I co-founded Emergencity, Inc., which built a beta version of an emergency communications platform that incorporated official agency information, mainstream news and social media, with some great maps and timelines to pull it all together. While that company was a casualty of the liquidity crisis in late 2008, I have continued to consult and present around these ideas, most recently for the Center for Asymmetric Warfare Annual Symposium at Cal Lutheran University.

As Katrina demonstrated, if a major emergency strikes, we very well may be on our own for days. Having the ability to distribute actionable intelligence is critical in reducing stress in the community and on the deployed agencies, while strengthening resilience and the ability to respond.

I’m looking forward to joining you all at GOV2.5, listening far more than I talk, and contributing to a collective goal of improving government services and engaging the public through social media.

 

Government 2.5 Speaker
Scaled ImageKyra Reed
Co-Founder
MarKyrMedia
“A Story of Joining Forces Among Competitors As Example For Government Agencies”
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The Legendary Sunset Strip in Hollywood is known throughout the world as the epicenter of music discovery. However, this image has faded dramatically over the years. To the locals the Strip is unfriendly and out of touch. This has created a critical situation for the businesses located on Sunset Blvd. Many have changed ownership or closed their doors in the last three years and it appeared that the Sunset Strip was fading into history. Another victim of the changing landscape of the music industry and and a dismal economy.

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