Effective & Successful Online Engagement

tumblr_labyr67TAx1qazof9o1_500By Minsun Kim

The government and public agencies have provided invaluable services for the public. In order to deliver its essential services, in a traditional way of setting, the government unilaterally approach to the clients (public) through agencies, based on the “command and control” procedure. Modern government system, however, need whole different kinds of service delivery process, in which government has more opened and networked structure. This paradigm shift also affected how the government communicate with its clients, from the notice like “what we want you to know” to the conversation like “what you want from us,” and in sync with the recent social media revolution, the government makes efforts to engage the public more interactive way.


So, how can you successfully engage with your client and constituency?

Scott burns, Co-founder and CEO of GovDelivery had very insightful process and thoughts on this.


Agile Management Strategy?? 

One of the strategies of building database I found very interesting was his adapting “Agile Product Management” techniques which software developers use, into the public sector. Unlike traditional delivery methods – spending huge amounts of money over many months and years to eventually deliver possibly not quite the right thing or even the completely wrong thing, you launch not the perfect service at first, rather you start with the manageable amount of programs and keep testing and upgrading.

Credit: GovLoop

In this way, for the many nonprofit professionals and public officials who are overwhelmed by the pressure of online communications, this could be an another way of good starting point. You can do it by step-by step or by trial and error, for instance, after you make some good contents on the blog, then you can share these through Twitter, Facebook or YouTube. Maybe then, you can publish them by your newsletter, you can make testimonial pages if your clients would give you some good feedback.


C.O.P.E / APIs

He also touched on the more practical ways of communication using technologies. Among the ideas, C.O.P.E (Create One, Publish Everywhere) and crowdsourcing through open API (Application Programming Interfaces)s methods also can be helpful to reach people easily and effectively. For instance, if you make a press release for an emergency on your website, system automatically sends it by SMS, posts on Twitter and Facebook. Also, by opening your APIs, people can make some smartphone /web application using your open data. These show the way how government and public communicate interactively. You can read more on the C.O.P.E in here. (link: Guardian)


Possible Obstacles

You should think about some bumps you can encounter. How could we reach the population that are not familiar with these online things? What if you work for (rural) social service agency and your dominant clients are composed of elderly people who barely use internet and smartphone? This “digital divide” issue can make you hard to employ all of those online strategies. You might consider segment your clients by digital accessibility and reach them differently. In addition, you always consider how online communications make offline things happen,  in other words, you need to think about how each online connection you are making has real values.


Creating Effective Online Engagement and Communication Strategies.

Source: edSocialMedia blog

By Lidiya Girma

Week 4 focused on strategies for online community building and engagement. Our speaker Scott Burns, CEO and Co-Founder of GovDelivery, provided some great insights into the ways technology can effectively be used to create greater participation in the public sector.


Improving online communication:

When formulating an online engagement strategy, it is important to ask how and why reaching people will actually matter.  You should identify a mission or a set of goals that the engagement strategy seeks to accomplish before proceeding to build an audience. Scott Burns argues that we obsess too much over the tools. Though it is important to have a good grasp of the types of online tools that can be utilized to increase participation, it is even more important to know what it is you are aiming to achieve; the tools become a means to that end. It’s also imperative that the numbers you analyze to determine the success of your online strategy (the amount of people that visit your webpage, the number of clicks on a link, etc…) are translated to plain English. You have to give meaning to the statistics and be able to convert those numbers to help people understand what is going on with their organization or initiative.

An example of an effective online communications strategy:

 The Minnesota Department of Revenue (DOR) has managed to build a large audience through its website and is now focusing more heavily on its webpage content.  Its goal is to educate people on what is going on in the state, and more importantly, to take action.  A few ways the DOR encourages active participation is by asking small businesses how it can serve them better, soliciting feedback, and promoting signups for various information and updates on its website. Its efforts have lead to much broader engagement.

A few things to consider:

1.     How effective is your online communications strategy? Consider your total reach of people. How large of an audience are you able to build with the tools you’ve chosen to employ?

2.     What is the value of each connection you are making? Think about the outcomes that result from each individual you are able to engage.

3.     How efficient are the tools you are using in actually reaching the targeted audience? Consider the costs (time, energy, money, risks, opportunity costs). Do the costs of the strategy outweigh the produced benefits?

Ÿ  Think about whether or not the audience you are trying to reach has access to the types of engagement tools or opportunities you provide, and whether you can tailor your strategy to fit their communication needs.

4.     How are you going to access your results? What standards will you use?

Ÿ  For instance, you can use benchmarks to compare your results. Maybe there is a similar organization or initiative that is using the same online communication strategies. How do the results compare?

How the State Government is Working On Effectively Using Social Media Tools?


By Chuqing

Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest,Tumblr, and other social media services have changed the rules of engagement. Now we are pleased to see more government agencies are realizing the significant role that social media tools play in improving employee relationships and civic engagement.

This week, Carolyn Parnell, the Minnesota’s Chief Information Officer, and Jenna Covey, who works for Governor Dayton’s office on social media techniques joined our class on September 18 and shared their insights about how the state government agencies effectively use social media tools to reach out big communities and provide better social services.

Technology Engagement

Now there are 95 agencies and councils in state have independent ways for doing IT consolidation. IT plays a pivotal role. Technology engagement is not just about technology, it is IT communication, which is about people, the relationships with citizens. How can we find efficiencies? how to get messages out? how to encourage innovative ideas from employees? Those are the questions government agencies should consider for the use of social media techniques.

Want to know more about solutions for state and local governments effectively using technology?

Here is a good website: http://www.govtech.com/govgirl/ created by Kristy, who is known as “GovGirl” in the government technology industry.

Goals for 2013

  • Opening data resource to the society

Data is a huge enterprises assets, also is the state’s assets. Now a group of data geeks, geographic officers and consultants are working on a white paper that recommends more opening data shares on a commissioner lever. Through partnership with third parties, the state government can get many accesses to customer data, website or mobile apps.

  • Launch innovation program

More time and money will be invested into innovation program looking for innovative methods to attract people’s attentions online. This will also be a good opportunities providing IT employees to contribute community building. The ideal scale would be to create an online community that everyone can see and comment and get more engaged with state affairs. In this way, the state governors can hear citizen’s voice, better understand their needs and provide better services.

  • Internal communication

There still many agencies do not allow people use twitter in their office hours. Actually those social media tools can be a creative approach to promote internal communications. How to make employees feel that they are included in the tread and how to encourage 30000 gover be happier to contribute innovative idea to build online community are the questions government agencies should think about.


Data privacy is always the big issue in openly sharing government’ data, partly because of the state departments do not have a unified legislative social media policy. Carolyn mentioned the state is implementing Microsoft 365 because of the data privacy issue with other third parties, and they are still looking for better online communication method to improve communicating and sharing with secure privacy protection.

Another challenge is lack of maintenance. There are not many professional people or team in state government agencies are work specifically on social media. “We need more people to work on the engagement with people on facebook, twitter, email followers to maintain a healthy and stable relationship.” Jenna said

How do we know the efficiency?

Without goals and goal values you are not doing web analytics, you are doing web iamwastingyourlifeandminelytics.—Avinash Kaushik

Does 2000 visitors necessarily mean you have 2000 participants? That is a problem occurs to many organizations. How do we know whether we are efficiently using social media tools?

There are some comprehensive social analytics tools can help us reach the goals:

Facebook Insights can provide measurements on your Page’s performance.

Find anonymized demographic data about your audience, and see how people are discovering and responding to your posts

  • Google Analytics

Google Analytics can provide you a report with detailed statistics about your website’s traffic and traffic sources, the basic service is free.


Other resources:

MN.IT Services: http://mn.gov/oet/

Twitter Analytics: https://dev.twitter.com/blog/introducing-twitter-web-analytics

The Little Digital Fish in the Big Social Media Pond


By Dave Anderson

In week three of Strategic Social Media, we focused on the broad topic of managing social media, including elements of strategy, policy, and measurement.  As described by Avinash Kaushik, the ultimate goals are to achieve the desired traffic acquisition, visitor behavior, and outcomes.

We had useful readings to consider strategy, “Digital Marketing and Measurement Model” (Kaushik); policy, “Policy and Implementation” (Mergel & Greeves, Social Media in the Public Sector Field Guide); and measurement,”Influence Measurement” (Kanter & Paine, Measure the Networked Nonprofit).   We also had an interesting in-class discussion prompted by our speakers, Carolyn Parnell and Jenna Covey. Overall, this week’s readings and discussions provided a useful bridge between last week’s personal learning strategy assignment, and next week’s online engagement strategy assignment. They helped to fill in the steps required for the online engagement strategy, including the need, audience, tools, risks, policies, roles and practices.

Parnel, as Minnesota’s Chief Information Officer, and Covey, as Governor Dayton’s Director of New Media, were able to provide examples of acquisition, behavior, and outcome at a significant size and scope in a setting where there were many engaged people and significant activities. An example of this scale can often provide fertile ground for information and examples. However, it can also be helpful to look at examples for those of us dealing with the small, inactive, and even possibly the brand new.




Social Media Measurement



By Michael Krizic

How can you use the numbers to work for you?

Social media is beyond how many followers you have or many likes you can gain. Although, they are important they don’t tell the whole story. They don’t talk about how you are engaging your followers or the people who like your organization. They also don’t talk about how those people are engaging with you and your organization or movement.

Beyond how big your community is, you also have to look at how much your community is growing and how is that community engaged into what you are doing. This is where numbers are your friend. You may know what these numbers mean but your boss may not. So you have to think about how to use them to make your case. When you think about these numbers in terms of how they are growing and how they are engaging your organization it can simplify your argument and help you explain your successes and failures.

Is my community growing?

This is an easy argument to make when you are talking to someone that might not fully understand what Facebook, Twitter, Youtube or any other social media tool you are providing for your organization or movement. Or this is a helpful argument to make to yourself when defending the work that you are doing.

Community growth is as simple as checking your Likes or Follows and comparing yourself to where you were at some point in the past. If your numbers are growing are they growing at the rate that you expect or hope for? If your numbers are declining what is the reason? Are you not as engaged this month as you were last month? You can take these numbers and see where you are heading as a movement.

Is my community engaged?

This might be a little more complicated but when evaluated correctly it can be more powerful when making your case. A great and simple way to accomplish this is to set goals. Once you know what you want your community to do you can see if you are reaching that goal. This can be done with a number of comments on a post, looking if links, videos, or photos are getting more likes, or even how many times your post is shared by your followers. This all can help you make an argument to someone that might not understand what it is you are actually doing and why it is helping the cause.

Let the numbers work for you!

The important part of the numbers and social media is let them work for you. If you don’t know what a tweet, a like, or a blog comment is you probably know what a number is. Use this knowledge and let the numbers tell your story. Let the numbers close the gap between you and your audience.

Social Media Improvements in MN Gov Lead to Analytic, and Monetary, Opportunities

By: William Risse

“When Governor Dayton arrived in office, we couldn’t send an email to all state gov. employees.”

        -Commissioner Carolyn Parnell     

analyticsImage from: govloop.com

Many of the readings from this past week focused on how to effectively reach out to the public as a non-profit or government organization, as well as policies that should be used when using social media.  Others focused on how we can measure the effectiveness of the tools we implement.  But how can the government effectively reach out to other organizations when there isn’t yet effective communication within the government itself?  Governor Dayton’s organization has done a lot to alleviate this, which was highlighted by Carolyn Parnell- Commissioner and Chief Information office, and Jenna Covey who works for governor Dayton on social media techniques.  They laid out ideas on how Minnesota’s government system has been streamlined through internet and social media sources to create innovation:

  • Use of “the commons” which uses Microsoft 365 to share data, ideas, and information through the cloud.
  • Increase social media use by all organizations.  When Dayton entered office, about 10 of 26 state groups used social media. Now they all do.
  • Use of internal ideas and data transfer so that employees feel valued, rather than outsourcing work to outside organizations.
  • Openly sharing data through programs such as http://hackformn.org/, which brought citizen’s together to forward public goals.
Minnesota Information Technology Home Page


Remember Kelsi’s blog and our discussion on Data Security!?

Carolyn cited the state’s choice of implementing Microsoft 365 because of data security issues with other providers such as google’s suite of services. Since UMN is on google drive rather then 365 here are some tips google provides on securing your documents- Security in Google Drive. Also: Office 365 Trust Center.


Now that the States on track, how can they  (and everyone else!) measure progress?

The state has made big steps in their use of social media, so now it is time for state organizations to start identifying how effectively they are using the social media tools at their disposal.  Many tools can assign a monetary value to certain social media goals.  A value can be assigned to anything from the number of comments alone, to the involvement of key supporters in a social media conversation.  Google analytics provides a short description of what their service provides, and there are many other options on the market as well.  This is especially important for Government organizations as many state governments face budgetary issues, and can also be important for non-profits looking to show their supporters progress.

50 top tools for Social Media Monitoring

Even without the monetary value- identifying how well you are making use of social media is essential for the Government, non-profits, and the private sector.  Social media isn’t going anywhere, and it is essential to use it to its maximum potential.

Exploring the Social Media Ecosystem: Data Privacy

Data Privacy Cartoon

Image Courtesy of Thierry Gregorius (Space & Light), Flickr

By Kelsi Klaers

With few exceptions, Americans have an “online presence.”  We use our computers and mobile devices to send emails, post to social media accounts, look things up, follow the news, apply for services, shop, bank, and even pay taxes online.

All of these activities result in the online collection and storage of our private data.

Who’s storing it?  And, more importantly, who’s keeping it safe?

There are three major players: individuals, companies, and the government.  Companies and government do the lion’s share of data storage.  Let’s work backwards and start with government.  There are a number of laws that protect your private data from the government.  There are also laws that protect your private data from companies.  However, the reality is that the pace of emerging technologies often outstrips the pace of law-making, and it’s difficult to regulate something before it’s created.  This leaves the burden of protecting private online data largely on the individual.  Unfortunately, not all individuals are equally equipped to protect their own private data.

Still curious? Check out this USA Today article, “Why new laws are needed post-Snowden,” posted by a classmate to our course Moodle site.

Why does this seem like a non-issue to most Americans? 

Most Americans are not fully aware of the extent to which their private data is being used online.  Among those that have at least some idea, many are apathetic, possibly because they feel helpless to do anything about it.

What are the arguments for choosing to share or suppress private data?

Sharing private data might be elected when it is determined to be in the best interest of the individual.  For example, they may be willing to share their email address with an airline in exchange for the ability to receive their plane ticket electronically and bypass one of the airport’s many lines.  In a more altruistic vein, a cell phone user may choose to share their physical location by GPS for the sake of creating real-time traffic maps.

Conversely, suppressing private data may be selected when it is determined not to be in the best interest of the individual.  Specifically, when the individual is receiving nothing in return or the data requested is irrelevant to the good/service being provided in exchange.

Lingering Question: What is a privacy audit? 

A privacy audit is imposed by the Federal Trade Commission to evaluate how an organization is using an individual’s private data (e.g. aggregated or repurposed) both internally and externally.   For more info, check out this Forbes article.

Resource List: Data Privacy

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