Civic Innovations

Technology, Government Innovation, and Open Data

Ten Two Ways To Make Twitter Useful For Government

eWeek Europe has an article up listing 10 ways to make Twitter useful for governments.

The time is ripe for such thinking – more and more governments are using Twitter to interact with citizens, and its fitting that governments spend some time thinking about how this tool can be used most effectively. Still, the eWeek Europe article (and some other recent musing on this subject) have left me feeling that a lot of people (both inside and outside of government) are missing the point.

In response, I offer my own list – 2 important steps to make Twitter more useful for governments:

  1. Clearly articulate the goal(s) your agency or government is trying to achieve by using Twitter. Link these goals directly back to the stated mission or objectives of your government agency. If your agency’s mission is to fight crime, or protect the environment, or collect taxes clearly state how using Twitter will help you do this. Say these things out loud. Write them down. Distribute them to employees and policy makers.
  2. Develop clear and quantifiable metrics that will be used to evaluate your progress toward the goals listed in step 1. At least one metric should be developed for each goal. The same metric should not be used for more than one goal. The metrics used should measure outcomes (enhanced customer satisfaction), not inputs (number of DM’s responded to). Say these things out loud. Write them down. Distribute them to employees and policy makers.

Don’t get me wrong, I am a huge fan of governments using Twitter – but use it for the right reasons. Governments using Twitter (or any other technology for that matter) because it is currently in high fashion is just silly.

If a government or agency can not follow the steps listed above then using Twitter should rank fairly low on the scale of importance.

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About Me

I am the former Chief Data Officer for the City of Philadelphia. I also served as Director of Government Relations at Code for America, and as Director of the State of Delaware’s Government Information Center. For about six years, I served in the General Services Administration’s Technology Transformation Services (TTS), and helped pioneer their work with state and local governments. I also led platform evangelism efforts for TTS’ cloud platform, which supports over 30 critical federal agency systems.

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