In the last several months, a handful of events at the intersection of web 2.0 and the federal government have gotten the attention of our analytical and web marketing team. While they are relatively small blips on the busy press calendar of giant federal agencies, we believe they are encouraging signs that the government’s approach to marketing new initiatives and engaging in an ongoing dialogue with constituents has meaningfully evolved.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is teaming with WebMD to produce new online consumer health information. WebMD is a popular site for consumers to gather health data, and the FDA is capitalizing on this traffic and using it as an information outlet. The two main pieces of this partnership are a new online consumer health information resource on WebMD and FDA contributions to WebMD The Magazine.
A second initiative is the use of social media on World Aids Day, Dec. 1. HHS utilized blogs, social networks and virtual worlds to connect with its audience. This date also marked the second anniversary of AIDS.gov, which is an online gateway to all federal domestic HIV/AIDS information and resources.
AIDS.gov, a government-sponsored site, partnered with Blog Catalog, a social network for bloggers and a private business, along with the National Institute on Drug Abuse to gather bloggers for a common cause and bring their online audiences together.
In the past, the federal government has been reticent about partnering with private media companies in such overt ways, particularly on the internet where messages can quickly become distorted and dissent is uncontrolled. However, federal agencies have begun testing ways to harness the power of social media to improve lines of communications with the citizens they serve and seek to inform. This, in our view, is democracy in action.