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Congress considers federal social media strategy

The federal government is looking to draw up a cohesive strategy for its agencies on social platforms, such as Twitter.

The House of Representatives is back from summer recess, and among the items on the agenda is the Social Media Working Group Act of 2014. While the government is already working with social media to inform and interact with citizens, one of the proposals under consideration is establishing a standard operating procedure for the Department of Homeland Security's Twitter account during a crisis.

According to Nate Elliott, social media analyst at Forrester Research, typically “The hope is when government or another authority tweets something, people will share it for them.”

However, because of the noisy environment of social media platforms, that generally doesn’t happen.

“Messages wash away very quickly,” according to Elliott. It's why the government is looking for a more cohesive social media strategy.

But there are challenges. Twitter, for example, does not use an algorithm to decide what the typical user sees in the same way as Facebook manages its feed. Plus, both allow increased visibility with paid posts, giving the government another challenge in reaching citizens on these platforms.

About the author

Ben Johnson is the host of Marketplace Tech.

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