Your Answers Here
When Michelle Chronister began working for the federal government as a Presidential Management Fellow in 2009, USA.gov didn’t respond to questions that citizens posted on its Facebook and Twitter pages.
Chronister, a program analyst, thought that the public deserved those answers, especially since the agency responded to email and phone queries. She proposed a change.
Now Chronister helps manage content for USA.gov, the federal government’s web portal, updating, organizing, and testing content to ensure it’s accessible and useful.
The new approach began in January 2010 with Chronister answering questions on Twitter and Facebook. As a result, the USA.gov social media program has grown exponentially, says Sarah Crane, director of USA.gov, GobiernoUSA.gov, and Kids.gov. “We’ve been thrilled with the results,” Crane says.
Now, seven employees answer questions in English and Spanish on USA.gov social media sites, Chronister says. Directing people to the help they need via Facebook or Twitter doesn’t even take much time. In 2011, each team member spent about a half hour per week on questions, she explains.
In an effort to reach a larger audience, Chronister recently began to post some of the interactions on the USA.gov Tumblr blog. But that’s not all. She also helped connect the federal government reform task force with the National Digital Stewardship Alliance in order to archive government websites before they were eliminated. Says Food & Drug Administration librarian Jessica Hernandez, Chronister “combines open government, digital preservation, and public access.” Not a bad combo for a newbie.
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