Lefebvre says that the best way to get people on board is to "showcase the innovators." I agree. I think the many of us have the impression that government is often the last to embrace new technologies and new ways of thinking. However, some agencies are belying this perception by successfully experimenting with social media technologies. For example, Lefebvre mentions that the Centers For Disease Control (CDC) is using social media to communicate with the public. CDC has:
- Launched A Blog: The director of the CDC's Center for Health Marketing has started a Weblog. I've visited the blog over the last few weeks and have found it interesting. However it has its problems. Most significantly, it is not frequently updated. Right now articles appear about once a month. This is okay, but I'd prefer to see something at least every two weeks. My advice is for CDC to develop an editorial calender or posting plan and have more people contribute guest posts to keep the content flowing.
Another issue is the the blog does not have an RSS feed. Given that FirstGov.gov regularly posts information from different government agencies, CDC should talk to people producing this Website to get their posts uploaded into its stream.
- Developed Podcasts: CDC has been producing podcasts on a number of subjects, including vaccines and e-games.
There are other government agencies getting into the social media act.
- Podcasting: In addition to the CDC, the Agency for Health Research and Quality, the National Institutes of Health and the Office of National Drug Control Policy (among other agencies) are producing podcasts. Click here for a complete list.
- Video Sharing Websites: Lefebvre also reports that the White House is distributing its anti-drug videos on YouTube. Not everyone is happy about this move. Michael Bugeja, an author and director of the journalism school at Iowa State University, said that posting the videos on YouTube is the "wrong forum and the wrong target" because "online video services don't offer serious consideration to weighty topics." (The White House's anti-drug messages have received mixed reviews in a Congressional study.)
Has Bugeja been on YouTube lately? I reported a few weeks ago on how The Pfizer Medical Humanities Initiative is posting videos on YouTube on global warming, the avian flu and other topics. People are uploading videos on other tough issues like HIV, cancer and depression.
- RSS Feeds: As mentioned previously, FirstGov.gov is highlighting RSS feeds from various government agencies. For example, the FDA transmitted information about the spinach recall recently via RSS.
When it comes to social media, it looks like government healthcare agencies are blazing a new path.