As the social networking juggernaut gained strength in 2008, one population segment had been largely ignored - government employees. That's where Steve Ressler came in. With a full-time federal job, Ressler spent his spare time building GovLoop, a social network for civil servants.
"I created a professional group called Young Government Leaders," Ressler recalled. "I wanted to talk to people of all ages - not just federal, but also state and local. I was seeing all these technologies, from Friendster and Facebook to LinkedIn, and I thought it would be cool to do that online for government."
GovLoop bears all the hallmarks of a modern social networking site, with member profiles, discussion groups, forums and blog posts. But GovLoop, Ressler said, is unique in that it's a platform for public-sector employees to share government-specific experiences.
"It's something needed in government because everyone works in their silos, whether by agency or federal, state or local level, but we're all dealing with the same issues," Ressler said. "I think that's why [GovLoop] took off."
The site has 25,000 members and has grown so much that it was acquired by government-citizen communications software vendor GovDelivery in September 2009. The growth led Ressler to leave his federal job to work on GovLoop full time. So what does the future hold for Ressler's growing government-focused Web community?
"I created this site [as] a way to connect people, and share ideas and best practices. I see the possibility to do that at a greater scale."