Money in the Bank: 3 Takeaways from the GovTech Social Academy in Atlanta

The amount of learning that took place at the GovTech Social Academy in Atlanta was undeniable.

by / March 29, 2017

Last year’s GovTech Social Unconference in Denver gave us some key takeaways — including the fact that we needed to do it again. This time, we took the pitch-your-own-sessions conference format to Atlanta, with a brand new name: the GovTech Social Academy. Why? The amount of learning we experience at these events is undeniable.

We were joined by more than 50 attendees in downtown Atlanta on March 14 and 15. Here are three takeaways from the event:

1. You have to put money in the bank

This was one of my favorite lines at the event, with full credit going to Lt. Odilia Bergh of the Peachtree City Police Department. It’s a great analogy for the day-to-day investment in time and resources that an agency must put into social channels. Sharing information, responding to feedback and questions, making people laugh — it’s all about building an engaged audience. That’s the money in the bank. And when the day comes that you need to efficiently and effectively disseminate information, you’ll be glad that you can make a withdrawal in the form of social media.

2. Public records concerns have become top of mind

The topic of public records was a common theme throughout the conference — and despite my own affiliation with the topic, the attendees kept beating me to the punch. The focus on social media as a public record is a direct reflection of the critical value of social media communications for both agencies and the public.

Our attendees grappled with several questions related to the topic. Can we archive Snapchat? (not really, but you can try screenshots.) How about Facebook Live and Periscope? (Yes, some archiving platforms can.) How can we meet all of the requirements? (We should talk.)

Ultimately we all agreed that a comprehensive social media policy, with clear internal guidance and a public records disclaimer, is a must-have.

3. Facebook and Twitter are still the foundation

Our time in Denver made it clear that agencies are experimenting with a wide variety of platforms including Snapchat and Nextdoor. We even considered such topics as “Quitting Twitter.” While Snapchat remained a hot topic in Atlanta, our attendees made it clear that there is no quitting Twitter yet — or Facebook for that matter. These two platforms combined provide the largest reach by a wide margin, and a presence on these platforms is basically an expectation at this point.

Want to hear directly from a few of our attendees? Check out the video above where I am joined by Lt. Bergh from Peachtree City Police and Donald Wood from the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission. 

Anil Chawla
Anil Chawla is the founder and CEO of ArchiveSocial, a civic tech company that specializes in risk mitigation and open records management of government social media. The parent company of Government Technology is an investor in ArchiveSocial through e.Republic Ventures.