USA.gov knows what it takes to engage solidly in social media. This web portal designed by the U.S. General Services Administration consistently ranks first in social media fans compared to all small federal agencies, and sits in the 90th percentile (top 10 percent) for each metric tracked by OhMyGov. The site is run by one of three communications shops within the General Service Administration, which designed the site to be the one-stop-shop for virtually anything an American citizen needs to know that their government can help provide. And the group effectively utilizes an exhaustive list of social media outlets to prove it.
If you’re looking for the cheapest gas in your area, need to apply for a passport, wondering whether or not you should eat that last donut (reference a BMI calculator first—it’s available for iPhone download), or are simply interested in why Leap Years exist anyway, the resources at USA.gov can help. The site's search feature provides quick access to 40 million government web pages and automatically clusters the search results by topic for easier use, making it a popular resource for anything from taxes to living green.
USA.gov also works closely with other federal agencies to ensure that information and services are organized on the website in a way that makes it easy for citizens to navigate and find the information they are seeking. This web portal works to drive additional traffic to agency websites and collaborates with partner agencies to share best practices in web content, web design and usability testing.
The group's Facebook Fans have doubled in the past year, thanks in part to ever-evolving social media efforts. In addition to the standards like Facebook and Twitter, USA.gov has footholds in various outlets including YouTube, LinkedIn and their newest addition, StumbleUpon. StumbleUpon differs from traditional search engines by providing users with content that they may find useful based on a series of categories that the users has marked as an “interest.” It's effectively a Pandora for websites.
According to senior product marketing manager for StumbleUpon, Jack Krawczyk, making effective use of the platform requires an entirely new strategy compared to traditional search engines. Krawczyk spoke at a webinar sponsored by the GSA and the Federal Web Managers Council on Feb. 28, and advised the agency to create a channel to reach a wider audience.
Once content has been published on a StumbleUpon channel, it becomes available to users depending upon their marked preferences. For sites like USA.gov that wish to generate publicity about a multitude of federal agencies, StumbleUpon is a new and already invaluable resource.
As USA.gov already understands, utilizing new methods of “discovery” on social media means it can reach an ever-widening audience. And its broad collection of resources means almost every page is a perfect candidate for the “share” button online. As the government’s official web portal continues to evolve with its audience, it can be sure to remain a reliable and all-inclusive stop for the questioning citizen online.
Note: An earlier version of this story said USA.gov
had a presence on Reddit. While the site offers sharing ability on
Reddit and numerous other social networks, it does not maintain a
branded agency presence.