USDA uses social media to study rural life

New Web site designed to provide information about USDA program

A new Web site launched by the Agriculture Department uses social media tools to track the progress of the Rural Tour, a program started by White House officials to learn more about people who live in rural communities, according to USDA officials.

The Web site, launched Aug. 17, includes a forum section where people are invited to share stories about life in rural America. The "What's Working" section of the site is designed to let people share information about projects funded by the federal economic stimulus law.

Progress of the Rural Tour can also be tracked on Twitter, USDA officials said. The department will provide news and live updates from the road through the Twitter feed.

A USDA Facebook fan page, which features news and information, is also available.

And USDA officials plan to post videos from the tour on YouTube and photos on Flickr.

“There has been such a positive reception to the Rural Tour events, we needed a new way to connect with individuals across the nation beyond the actual events,” said Amanda Eamich, acting director of New Media at the USDA. "That's where new media comes in. It's much more than sending a tweet or feeding blog content through Facebook. We’re interested in sharing information beyond traditional press releases and finding out what people have to say as well."

About the Author

Doug Beizer is a staff writer for Federal Computer Week.

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