Great video of how the Salt Lake Valley Health Department uses social media tools like Twitter and Facebook to communicate H1N1 information to citizens and media.
Connect with SLVHD:
(HT Steve Lunceford)
I’m a communications guy by trade, working in media relations and strategic communications for nearly two decades. Over the last 10 years or so I’ve worked in and around the public sector for organizations like Sprint, BearingPoint and now with Deloitte. Around 24 months ago, it became obvious to me that new technologies and tools were fundamentally changing the way communicators worked — the way reporters interacted with sources, the way organizations disseminated information, the way citizens expected to interact with their government. While I was familiar with eGov initiatives and the web 1.0 services that federal, state and local governments were providing (ordering birth certificates or publishing reports on line and such), it was less apparent to me how new channels like Twitter, YouTube, FaceBook, MySpace and the like could be applied to the public sector. After all, these were “social” tools and seemed more fitting for lighter discussions and interactions, or maybe more relevant for the technology sector, not the business of government.
But as I started experimenting with the tools myself I was shocked to find many government clients, prospects, reporters and more all using tools like Twitter and GovLoop to start meaningful conversations, share relevant information and connect in ways that email and other tools had simply not allowed. As an info junkie, Twitter became an extremely powerful channel for me personally, especially when paired with tools like Tweetdeck or other search sites to find/funnel relevant information. But as enamored as I was with Twitter, 12 months ago it was hard to ferret out who was talking about the business of government or which agencies and individuals to connect with. That’s why I started GovTwit, because I wanted to provide what appeared to be a rapidly-growing community with a one-stop-shop to find others from government using this tool to share information, form relationships and communicate.
I think the citizen interaction piece is still largely untapped to date. Many agencies at both federal and state levels have launched programs that use channels like Facebook, Twitter and the like to push information out to where citizens are now “gathering” online. This is fantastic, especially so if you have a mission that partly centers around dissemination of critical information quickly — like the CDC dealing with H1N1. But there have been far fewer instances of government directly soliciting input and having back and forth conversations with citizens about issues that matter to them. There are, of course, many reasons for this, including how do you staff such a model, how do you comply with privacy issues or other regulatory requirements as you interact in a more direct, one-to-one manner, etc. But those are surmountable challenges and tools allowing a way to recreate the town hall experience where everyone gets a voice is an incredibly powerful concept.
I don’t think there’s one killer application or tool that will make Gov 2.0 the norm, and I actually don’t think it’s about apps at all. To a much larger extent it’s about embracing a change in culture and a change in processes to look at new ways to accomplish goals. If you approach Gov 2.0 as “I need a Twitter feed” or “I need to blog” you’ve already failed. You first need to focus on your mission objectives, then work from that to determine the right tools to help you meet that mission. Gov 2.0 isn’t something that the PAO/PIO shop should own or something that only recruiting works with. You could use it for internal process improvement like TSA’s Idea Factory, or use it to solicit cross-agency feedback on government-wide issues like BetterBuyProject.com. It’s about *your* mission and how new tools, technologies and applications can help you meet your goals.
I think its the promise of what government could like like 10 years from now as the use of these tools and technologies become more prevalent. As collaboration increases, as knowledge-sharing grows, as best-practices break free from whatever stove-pipe they were previously trapped within, there’s opportunity for a much more rapid pace of change to take place for the betterment of all.
Original post: Social Media Flu Fighters
One of the aspects of Gov 2.0 that I think is making excellent progress is in the area of healthcare and social media. Not only are private healthcare organizations beginning to embrace this technology, but government agencies are also beginning to make use of these powerful tools.
Efforts to distribute accurate information about the dangers of swine flu and the importance of vaccination are hampered by the sheer complexity of the message. Social media tools are being utilized to assist in this effort. Using Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and blogs, the government is actively engaged in social media to harness the power of this platform to reach a new audience and provide real time information. Social media is a powerful new method of healthy communication.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) have been working together to provide consumers and partners with social media tools that provide information about the ongoing 2009 novel influenza A (H1N1) outbreak. Widgets, mobile information, online videos and other tools reinforce and personalize messages, reach new audiences, and build a communication infrastructure based on open information exchange.
CDC is also encouraging the strategic use of Twitter to effectively and inexpensively reach individuals and partners with timely health and safety information. You can follow updates from CDC on Twitter at:
Flu.Gov on Twitter for H1N1 updates – For real time updates on the latest information
CDC’s Twitter profile for social media updates – For health professionals interested in staying up-to-date with CDC’s social media activities
CDC’s Twitter profile for emergency information – Emergency preparedness and response information from CDC and partner agencies.
CDC’s Twitter profile for flu updates – Updated information related to novel H1N1 flu, seasonal flu, and general influenza information.
CDC is actually using social media to inform on a variety of subjects besides flu. CDC is also home to a number of blogs on topics ranging from occupational health to HIV prevention and control. CDC blogs allow programs to share information in a way that encourages readers to comment and engage with the content:
The HHS Center for New Media promotes and supports strategic, mission-oriented implementation of new and social media. Their mission is to provide new media trainings, guidance, coordination, and evaluation across HHS, and to encourage and participate in the utilization and facilitation of new media communications throughout the federal government. Their work is under continuous development as the site grows with the expanding HHS new media activities. Follow Andrew Wilson of the HHS social media team on Twitter to keep updated on all the happenings.