Web 2.0 initiatives in government: so government can be “cool” too?
I currently work in government doing both clinical research and consumer health communication. Needless to say, I am most interested in how to use social media tools to educate both doctors and consumers. Government bureaucrats tend to be conservative and risk-averse, reluctant to adopt new technologies but curiously, at the same time, eager to appear innovative. A primary reason for the inertia is the need for control – all messages going to the public must go through an approval process which is obviously an obstacle to the direct and immediate communication potential of web 2.0 tools. For the last few months I have been grappling with the question of how to make the business case for social media in an environment fraught with such challenges. I have come across excellent examples of governments that are using web 2.0 tools and boldly venturing where nobody has gone before. Examples of these early adopters abound:
- government 2.0 best practices wiki
- collaboration projects
- social media and web 2.0 in government
- government 2.0 expo showcase
US Centers for Disease Control blogger Dr. Jay Bernhardt, is remarkably successful in engaging his audience in fruitful conversations via his health marketing musings blog. Environmental Protection Agency stands out for its advanced policy framework for their bloggers. UK Foreign and Commonwealth (FCO) officers routinely blog as part of their work. Rather than being mortified by the fear of these diplomats saying the wrong thing in the delicate arena of international relations, the FCO office has chosen to focus on the incredible opportunity in these avenues to both articulate UK’s foreign policy and engage stakeholders in important conversations. Recently, several government entities have signaled the intention to procure and deploy virtual world projects. I am most interested in examples of governments that are successfully seizing opportunities and overcoming barriers to use these valuable social media tools – particularly in health communication and promotion.