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The Facebook fan flap

Here is a guest-post by Susan Miller, online editor-in-chief for the 1105 Government Information Group (FCW's publisher):

We got some provocative comments on our list of government Facebook pages with the most fans. This top 10 list of was part of the annual Federal List issue, where we put together eclectic lists of items – from companies to watch to top government properties in Second Life.

Mark Drapeau, a gov 2.0 guru and occasional columnist for FCW (so you know we value his opinion), initially posted a comment on our list, questioning the meaning of the number of fans. Next thing you know, he’s so fired up, he writes a great piece for the O’Reilly site arguing that the number of Facebook fans an agency has is not a good measure of anything.

I couldn’t agree more.

If thousands of even vocal, dedicated, loyal, engaged fans could change an organization’s direction, the Boston Red Sox would be the powerhouse of the AL East. We’re never going to see that kind of enthusiasm for the White House because the Facebook fan pages of the White House, EPA and the State Department just aren’t engaging citizens on the issues they care about. And that’s Mark’s point too.

Which brings me to a second comment we got. Brad Blake in Massachusetts state government, writes:

I'm wondering if agencies should be thinking about creating fan pages for what the work they do leads to or inspires, rather than the agency, itself. For example, do you create a fan page for "Safer Streets" instead of "The Interagency Council on Public Safety and Security"?.... "Awesome Public Parks" instead of "The Executive Department of Land Conservation and State Recreation?"

Today, we’re seeing Facebook fan pages that resemble 1990-ish corporate web sites: PR-speak with navigation that mirrored the org chart. Didn’t take too long (ok, maybe it did) before corporations and government agencies realized that a successful web site needs to deliver what the visitors want.

We’ll get there with Facebook, and pretty quick, I imagine. I’m with Brad. We don’t need to be fans of government agencies; we need to be fans of health reform, fair trade, clean water, safe highways.

Let's put on our rally caps and get going.

Posted on Sep 16, 2009 at 12:14 PM


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