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Podcast: 5 Takeaways for Expanding Your Social Presence, Verifying Accounts

Government Technology magazine and special guests discuss what it means to respect the platform, align with the agency’s strategy and stay alert in a rapidly changing social media environment.

Listen using the player above and subscribe on iTunes and Stitcher so you can take it with you.


GovTech Social welcomed Luke Stowe (@lukestowe), the Digital Services Coordinator for Evanston, Ill., and Government Social Media Conference & Expo (GSMCON) adviser, to his role as a special correspondent for Government Technology with a wide-ranging discussion of the issues that matter most to government social media — including securing verified accounts and making sense of emerging social platforms.  

This episode also includes the debut of new features "The Week in Tweet" -- social news in review -- and the panel’s summary judgement of whether recent developments are good news, bad news or no news.

Listen using the player above and subscribe on iTunes so you can take it with you.

1) Check! The Push for the Big Blue Seal of Verified Accounts

A quarter of webcast attendees (24 percent) said they had secured verified status for their jurisdiction’s social media accounts. Of the remaining, 62 percent said they planned to pursue verification in the next 30 days. (During the live event, that number peaked at 80 percent.)

Stowe says the No. 1 question he has been fielding since Facebook announced its verified accounts program for government is around the need to link official accounts to personal accounts. Check the podcast for a full discussion of why this approach is helping to eliminate “gray accounts,” and why that is good for everybody in the long run.

Stowe’s recent articles for both GovTech Social and the June issue of Government Technology, The Importance of Verified Social Accounts, provide useful context and tactics for agencies. To verify public agency accounts, visit each of the following:

And then there is this handy one-page guide to Social Media Verification and Archiving [Sponsored] developed especially for podcast listeners.

2) Expanding Social Presence to New Platforms

As public agencies explore social platforms beyond Facebook and Twitter, Stowe says LinkedIn may be the best fit among the big six for economic, business and professional development.

Where emerging platforms are concerned, Stowe tracks their adoption rate and pays particularly close attention when the number of users gets too big to ignore. With 100 million daily active users, Snapchat is quickly becoming a viable and compelling platform to consider as part of a public agency’s social portfolio -- particularly for those looking to engage younger cohorts.

Stowe’s advice is to “respect the platform” -- that is, adapt your strategy to the nature, audience and changing algorithm of each site -- including Google Plus, which he thinks is worth tracking in anticipation of its next reboot. A nonscientific straw poll of webcast participants indicates a split between news sites (44 percent) and friends (41 percent) as the primary sources for finding out about new social platforms, with staff recommendations as a distant third (12 percent).

3) Social Media as the New Town Hall

Co-host Anil Chawla, founder of ArchiveSocial, said Wichita’s decision to hold a social town hall as part of its budget deliberations is another sign that social is becoming part of the fabric of governing.

4) Support for Social Media Programs within Public Agencies Remains Mixed

The straw poll of webcast users suggested social media has earned a place at the table in many jurisdictions, but some govies are still sitting on folding chairs. Fully 84 percent indicated they enjoy at least some level of support from their agencies, but more that half conceded that it was only partial.

5) Keep Records of Your Social Media

Chawla offered five takeaway tactics for social success:

  • Remember that government social media is a public record and a legal record.
  • Do not rely on the social networks for your record keeping.
  • Archive your social media for the same reasons you archive email.
  • Leave IT alone; social media archiving can be done in the cloud.
  • Pay attention to metadata and context.  

Bonus: More Answers to Your Questions

The webcast attracted more questions than we could answer in the time available. Stowe crafted these written responses to the ones that remained in the cue:

Does Instagram have any verification process? Not yet for state and local government agencies, but we'll inquire with them.  

I've been trying to verify our Twitter/FB and I also tried obtaining Tax Exempt IDs. Who do you usually obtain those from if you are a law enforcement agency (County District Attorney)? Also, how long does it take to verify the pages? Typically tax exempt IDs come from a state revenue (or similar) agency that issues the tax-exempt status letters. Other similar official documents could potentially work. Verification can take a few hours or several days depending on the agency's current volume.

Can multiple accounts from one agency be verified with the same tax-exempt paperwork? Yes, assuming they are all departments under one umbrella.  

We have email addresses for our agency that are not dot-gov addresses, nor do they have our agency name (they're Do you see any issues getting Twitter/FB verified status with non-dot-gov addresses? That email domain should work since it's your official website domain.  

Do you have a preference on social media monitoring tools to monitor all of the government pages? We are considering purchasing HootSuite. I have been using Hootsuite for six years. I'm also a fan of SproutSocial. Both are great products.

Are you using Periscope in Evanston? If so, for what? We would like to use Periscope, but are not yet due to concerns on records retention. Meerkat recently opened up its API.

Articles, Columns and Other Resources Mentioned on This Episode

Please send your comments and suggestions to co-hosts Dustin Haisler or Paul Taylor.