Are feds finally breaking the social media barrier?

Federal agencies marked 71 milestones in 2010

Federal agency social media activity began a steady climb in 2005 and accelerated in 2010, according to a new online interactive timeline created by the General Services Administration to track federal social networking.

GSA published its U.S. Government Use of Social Media Timeline on the Dipity.com website on Sept. 23. Since then, new items have been added by GSA, including items that represent events that have happened since Sept. 23.

The timeline highlights more than 100 landmark events in federal agencies' use of social media from 2005 to the present, and has received more than 44,000 page views by today.

In calendar 2010 to date, the GSA timeline marks 71 milestones in federal social media use. By comparison, there are 39 milestones in 2009, 15 each in 2008 and 2007, and six events included from 2006 and 2005.


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“Federal agencies should be proud that they’ve come so far so fast using social media to engage the public in support of their missions,” David McClure, associate administrator for GSA’s Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies, wrote in his blog entry about the timeline on Oct. 19.

McClure invited the public and federal employees to contribute items to the timeline. Prospective milestones should be submitted to govnewmedia@gsa.gov. The agency reviews the submissions and publishes the accepted items. “We invite you to improve, share and collaborate on this timeline,” McClure wrote.

The timeline begins with April 2005, when the National Aeronautics and Space Administration sponsored its first idea competition. Next, the Small Business Administration became the first federal agency with a YouTube channel in December 2005, and the intelligence community introduced Intellipedia in April 2006.

From 2005 to the present, the timeline presents dozens of additional events, including the debut of USASpending.gov in 2007 and the Transportation Security Administration’s blog introduced in February 2008.

Recent events included benchmarks for President Obama’s 5.5 million Twitter followers, Veterans Affairs Department’ new blog, new tools on Apps.gov and the U.S. Geological Survey’s new Facebook ambassador program.

In 2010, activity was fairly steady, except for a burst of activity in June and July, when 28 milestones occurred and were published on the timeline.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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