Is Twitter worth the effort for government?

Earlier this week I shared how Twitter, Inc. released its first-ever official case study on how a government agency uses the service to help achieve agency mission. Now comes a story in UK-based The Register claiming the:

UK government’s business, innovation and skills department (BIS) is currently peering into its own Web2.0 navel in an effort to work out if it’s wasting time and money on “social media” websites.

The Register story centers around an online survey the department is conducting that has collected just over 70 responses in the month since launching. The publication editorializes a bit, closing its report with the following:

So 71 responses probably tells BIS all it needs to know about how the British public is interacting online with the department. It’s a bit like bouncing off the walls of an anechoic chamber.

Based on the reporting, it appears the story headline is somewhat misleading, as nowhere do I see a quote from a BIS official wondering “if Twitter is worth the effort.” In fact, it seems The Register is the only entity mentioned in the story that is questioning the time/expense/effort in the British government maintaining a social media presence.

I of course hold some bias around this topic. Maintaining a directory of nearly 3,000 government and related Twitter IDs, I’m well aware of many examples of Twitter used by government organizations worldwide to engage, inform and discuss a variety of topics. From sharing best practices, to sharing how to respond to natural disasters and disease outbreaks, Twitter and other social network points of presence are becoming an increasing part of the communication mix for government organizations, employees and the citizens they serve.

But what say you? Is Twitter (or social media in general) worth the effort for government? Take the poll and leave a comment if you have a favorite example.

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  • Keith Houin

    If the content is worth it Twitter is worth it. Just like any other form of communication content is key. Tweeting a link that is worth an RT can help reach an unexpected audience. When we had a resue op in the North Atlantic a tweet of our blog link increased our audience 10 fold. Facebook and Twitter combined helped spread the word on out Little League World Series team and increased our page visits. Some fans and followers are still their just because of those two items. Now that we have stood up the official Twitter I expect more similar activity, but know that content will still be king. Content tailored to my audience, but with potential to draw new audience members will be the challenge. As a mil account you have to be careful but it can pay dividends.