Citizen engagement with the government via social media is not a new concept for USA.gov and GobiernoUSA.gov.
Over the past three years, they’ve answered more than 3,000 questions on Facebook and Twitter, in English and Spanish, and replied to more than 300 questions in the first year alone. After that, it soon became clear the demand was greater than the duo manning the system.
To meet this challenge, the two-person pilot program expanded to a team now boasting seven people. The site recruited within the office to find tech-savvy people with knowledge of government programs, and of course, a willingness to participate.
Social media accounts and days of the week are assigned to each person who then monitors the account, moderates comments and responds to questions.
The General Services Administration’s program tracks the progress using engagement responsiveness metrics. Every question asked, the team member who answered it, and how long it took can be recorded. From this information, DigitalGov created a cheat sheet, which saves time and ensures consistency in the answering process.
GSA outlined some suggestions for agency use and shared some lessons learned in the past three years. For one: Know when to ask for help. If someone on the team has spent more than five minutes looking for an answer, collaborate with other team members to find a solution.
Also, agency’s social media guidelines should be current, and team members should be sufficiently trained. Last, track your metrics; agencies should adjust their social media engagement with reliable metrics to help the agency improve.
HowTo.gov last week released guidance for tracking social media metrics for federal agencies recommended by Federal Social Media Community of Practice. The group launched about one year ago, uniting more than 200 social media managers in federal agencies.
The purpose of GSA posting these suggestions, according to the online report: “[T]o establish a common, yet customizable approach to analyzing social data using the most cost-effective methods available. It provides a framework for agencies to measure the value and impact of social media in addressing agency mission and program goals.”