With a Blackberry-addicted president in the White House, it’s no wonder the federal government is focusing on ways to use new media to communicate with the public. Increasingly, officials and agencies are harnessing the immediacy and mobility of Twitter.
President Obama leads the Twitter pack with almost 800,000 followers. (But Twitter may have lost its glitter for the President since his last tweet is dated March 25!) Congressional representatives and senators are taking up the slack. Surprisingly, more than twice as many Republicans (83) as Democrats (40) are tweeting.
You can find out whether your congressman and senators are tweeting at Tweet Congress. And if they are not, you can sign a petition asking them to “join Twitter to engage the citizens in real discourse about the issues facing the nation.” Arizona Senator John McCain is the congressional leader with more than 400,000 followers, far outpacing second place Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill with about 20,000.
It not just the legislative branch that uses Twitter. Many government agencies are tweeting about policy, legislation, and schedules. Some agencies are using Twitter to send just-in-time information.
- The U.S. Geological Survey posts earthquake warnings.
- The FDA posts food recalls.
- The National Park Service posts snow reports and bear sightings for Yosemite.
- NASA posted updates from Mars during the Mars Phoenix Lander Mission.
Do you know of innovative ways the government is using Twitter? Let us know!
— Marilynne Rudick (guest blogger)