Twittering Government Agencies Are a Growing Trend


Interesting. The British government is encouraging its employees to use Twitter. ChannelWeb reports Neil Williams, head of corporate digital channels for Britain's Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, wrote a 20-page strategy "template" for leveraging Twitter to build an audience and get government messages out. Williams admits 20 pages is probably "over the top," but he "was surprised by just how much there is to say -- and quite how worth saying it is."


According to the story, the strategy provides that "Twitter use should be limited to relevant issues or upcoming events... campaign messages and insights from ministries." Sending two to 10 tweets per day, plus replying to other tweets should take no more than an hour a day, and it will give citizens a window into the workings of government.


It sounds good on the surface, but is it possible to be too transparent? We've talked a bit about how Twitter could leave company execs liable for insider trading and other things, so what's to keep a government employee -- even inadvertently -- from revealing too much information, or the wrong information, or information that's not "final" for purposes of public consumption?


Tee Morris, whose book "All a Twitter," was released earlier this month, says government agencies are slowly getting on board with social media, and Twitter in particular. "More government agencies realize that this is the way to reach out to the community...[People] want information quick, and they want it delivered to them in small, digestable portions."


To further that goal, Morris told me he is currently working on a seminar called "Government 2.0: Declassified" in which he will discuss the challenges associated with social media in government circles. The two biggest ones are, first, that the higher-ups don't understand how the technology works, and second, that IT departments within the government don't want to support the use of social media. However, he says once they learn more about how it works and how it should be used, they'll understand that "it's not evil."


Morris points to the Library of Congress as one U.S. agency that is doing "great things" with the microblogging service.