First came the technorati. Then the twitterati. Now the goverati have burst onto the Web 2.0 scene. These are individuals from government and industry alike leveraging new technology to better shape government policy and direction. So what can industry do to keep on top of this emerging trend? Who better to ask than Mark Drapeau, a Web 2.0 expert who coined the term “goverati.” Here Drapeau offers six ways your company can join in on the conversation.
1. Accept social media is here to stay. We’ve all heard reports of social media stalling within certain government quarters, the Department of Defense among them. In actuality, DoD is one of the “giant government leaders” in new social media, says Drapeau. So, too, are the intelligence community, the State Department, DHS (especially TSA and the US Coast Guard), and the EPA, he adds. Drapeau anticipates DoD will continue to enlarge its social media presence through internal social networks like Army Knowledge Online and, to some degree, platforms like Facebook and Twitter.
2. Define your goals. Joining the goverati — and being part of the conversation — requires you first define whom you want to reach. Perhaps your goal is to interact with people who might buy your product. Or whom you want to convince to think more highly of you. Or who set government policy. Defining those specific goals will give you a better idea of the audience you wish to reach, says Drapeau.
3. Find the conversation. “The easiest way to get involved in the conversation initially is to find people already having it,” says Drapeau. “If you’re interested in the F-35 fighter, for example, you can find those conversations online, on Blog Talk Radio, WordPress, Twitter, and so forth,” he says. Good tools to use in your search: Bing and Google News searches. For “real time” web content, try TweetMeme, which searches Twitter conversations.
4. Observe the conservation. “The most productive thing to do is listen a lot and get a sense of where people are at,” says Drapeau. That requires doing a little investigative work, he adds. Facebook lets you see who your friends’ friends are, Twitter lets you see who other people are tweeting, and blogs let you see who’s commenting on blogs. “Collect that business intelligence, then use it to try to find people useful to your specific goal,” says Drapeau. For example, you might find someone tweeted about the F-35 fighter. Don’t stop there. “It’s a fair bet that if someone tweets about fighter jets all the time he’s interacting or following people on Twitter interested in a similar topic,” says Drapeau.
5. Be authentic about who you are. “People really value authenticity and transparency when it comes to online conversations,” says Drapeau. Both create context. “People respect if you’re a senior government official and you have to hold back a little bit or if you’re the marketer for Lockheed Martin people will get where you’re coming from … they take that into account when analyzing your point of view and, similarly, you do that when you read their blogs,” he adds.
6. Skip the self-promotion. “If you went to a cocktail party and all anyone ever did was talk about their product you wouldn’t want to talk to that person very long,” says Drapeau. The same is true of a Facebook fan page wall or Twitter account. “There might be a small niche of people who want to hear that all the time but most people don’t,” he says. It’s about balance. “I tweet out the links to my own stories but you can’t just do that constantly,” says Drapeau. A good rule of thumb, he adds, is to serve as an information aggregator. “If you’re the marketing person for a company you might consider being sort of an information aggregator about things peripherally related to what you do and that affect business,” he says.
Learn how new media is being used by the federal government, and what industry needs to know to keep on top of this emerging trend. Mark Drapeau weighs in Thursday, Oct. 15. Details here.