Government Social Media Guidebook Update

Last year, my writing partner Ines Mergel and I signed a contract with Jossey-Bass/Wiley to author a government guide to social media. The product of our collaboration is a handy little tome called: Social Media in the Public Sector Field Guide: A practical approach to designing and implementing government social media strategies. Yes, I know it isn’t the most creative title, but it does get the point across!

The book is a guide for the social media novice – the government employee who is tasked (either by assignment or design) to develop and support the agency’s social media efforts. The book covers the origins and value proposition of social media in government. It explores the most successful tools and how to use them.  We also cover the strategies, policies and tactics to ensure a successful launch and long-term value. The guide includes dozens of real-world examples and several case studies and testimonials from government 2.0 rock stars to help make the content practical and accessible.

The peer reviews starting rolling in about a month ago and I am happy to report that we’ve just submitted our edited manuscript back to the publisher for review. Please join me in a collective woot on reaching such a great milestone!  If you think this book might be helpful, please stay tuned for more updates as we get closer to a release date.

Turning a New Twitter Leaf

It’s time to reveal my great Twitter experiment! Okay, well maybe it’s not grand enough to be classified as “Great”, but it is mine, and it is an experiment. For a few years now, I have tried to remain faithful to a strict business-only code on my Twitter account; no talking about anything other than IT nerdiness and Government 2.0. I kept my other pursuits, such as DIY, writing and music exclusive to my Facebook site or here on the blog.

These last few weeks have seen an intersection of my interests. If you read this blog with any regularity, you’ll know I’ve recently completed my first novel. As I travel down the highway seeking a literary agent to represent my work, I have begun following authors, publishers and other aspiring writers via Twitter. These are folks in the genre and the industry, the ones I want and need to learn from. Just as I’ve surrounded my online self with the goverati who walk the govt 2.o walk, I want to do the same with my writing circle of expertise. The combination has created a very interesting stream of posts that fly across my twitfeed. And now I find myself fighting stronger and stronger urges to post (gasp!) non techie posts on twitter! No…I musn’t! I might lose a follower or a dozen or 100. I can’t let that happen…can I?Will You Be My Friend?

Sure I can! My twitter feed is mine, all mine. If it doesn’t work for me, who does it work for? Many moons ago, I did a post on why Twitter held value for me as a techie 2.0 govie. But it doesn’t matter what subject you want to review as long as you get the right kind of symbiotic audience to fit your needs.

Yesterday I had a great time talking to a New Media class at Syracuse University about social media use in government. I reminded them (and myself) that social media is SOCIAL and MEDIA. It is a conversation at a cocktail party, not a lecture hall. You mingle, you find common interests and forge new relationships.

So that is exactly what I am going to do. Don’t cry Government 2.0, I am not giving up on us, I just don’t want these boundaries keeping us so exclusive. It’s not you, really, it’s me. I want a more open relationship. I want to be able to see other topics. We’ll still be friends, I promise.

So to my “old” government 2.0 friends, I’m still here and still full-on geeked out. Bear with my seemingly random non-2.0 posts if you can. If not, I’ll understand your stealthy “unfollow” with no hard feelings at all.

To my “new” writing friends, hopefully you’ll accept a noob among your ranks. I look forward to connecting with you all via new channels about our common topics and struggles.

As of this publishing, I am the proud recipient of 387 followers. In a month or so, I’ll follow this post up with an update and a review of my great experiment! I would really appreciate any candid feedback, positive or negative on this one, so send me your two cents below!

Govt 2.0: From Tools to Policy to Convergence

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!