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Feds, Contractors Using Social Media

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In this day and age, it’s hardly a surprise that the federal government marketplace is a heavy user of social media and mobile apps by the civilian and military agencies, as well as by the contractors or vendors.

The government and military use social media to officially communicate with employees, citizens and even the world at large. Social media initially served as a public relations tool to push news and information outwards; however, many federal organizations are now embracing social media — typically tools LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+ and Pinterest — to actively communicate with and listen to constituents.

A recent Washington Post article reported the Department of Education’s use of social media “… to answer questions on a monthly basis from students and parents. Using the hashtag #AskFAFSA, the department is directly engaging citizens’ questions on Twitter about student aid forms and other college financing processes ….“ The story further states that the Department of Veterans Affairs launched the #VetQ campaign, which covered topics ranging from health and disability benefits to VA home loans, the GI Bill and educational benefits.

A federal agency, the General Services Administration (GSA), has developed a platform called DigitalGov.gov for the purpose of helping all federal agencies understand, build, use and manage digital tools. This digital vehicle is intended to meet the expectations of the public that are increasingly native users of digital services. The challenge it must also address is balancing information access with safety and security.

Contractors and vendors generally have a very practical approach to social media — one that is driven by anticipated return on investment (ROI). Businesspeople often see social media as a time-waster instead of a relationship-builder.

However, LinkedIn is one of the digital tools that contractors are actively using not just to post or look for jobs. This web site has developed into a relationship-building tool that provides access and insight into agency and vendor personnel. The “Groups“ function allows for like-minded people to connect with others in a professional environment often focused on business niches.

The entire social media network has exploded in the federal marketplace, and those wishing to see greater success in business, or as a government employee or agency, are increasing training and the time allocated to creating and managing these ever-changing tools.

Gloria Larkin is president of TargetGov in Linthicum. She can be contacted via www.targetgov.com and 866-579-1346.