The popularity of social networking tools like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn continues to be on the rise across sectors of business and society, including government. However, there seems to be a certain degree of reluctance among some government agencies and municipalities to fully jump on the proverbial 2.0. band-width-wagon. Government Technology staff writer Russell Nichols points out that NetProspex recently ranked the government services industry behind funeral homes and services in terms of how much different business sectors use social media, in his recent article. NetProspex's chief revenue officer Michael Bird thinks; "Social media is hard for the government to get its arms around," according to the article. "It's transparent and it's out there and in the early stages, a few people tend to do some crazy things," Nicols quotes Bird.
At the same time, more and more government agencies and municipalities are exploring the advantages of Web 2.0. messaging and techology (one of the Center for 21st Century Communities (21c3)'s "Eight Assets"). CNN reports how FEMA chief Craig Fugate found Twitter helpful after a gas explosion in San Bruno, California. An article posted on Project Virginia's website reports how some "Michigan Municipalities Use Social Media to Communicate," from using Nixle to announce emergencies, fires, and traffic accidents, to examples of how communities broadcast information on Facebook and Twitter. A while back, I wrote an article for the Michigan Municipal League's magazine, The Review, about how Madisonville, Kentucky mayor Will Cox used Facebook as an emergency management tool during a catastrophic ice storm.
The American Red Cross published "Social Media in Disasters and Emergencies," this August. For example, they found; "About half of respondents [to their online survey] would sign up for emails, text alerts, or applications to receive any of the emergency information [covered by the survey]." Further resources covering best practices and policies related to social media are listed on the Social Media Subcouncil's website.
Jennifer Eberbach is a professional journalist and writer. Find contact information on her website www.jenthewriter.info