Social Media in the Public Sector Field Guide

By Bill Greeves and Ines Mergel, Jossey-Bass, 224 pages, $40


Social media has been a hot topic since its emergence. Public-sector officials seeking advice on how to navigate the virtual terrain consulted trade publications and looked to mainstream usage for lessons to emulate.

Government agencies and officials who are still hesitant or skeptical about how to utilize social media have a new tool at their disposal, “Social Media in the Public Sector Field Guide: Designing and Implementing Strategies and Policies.” It was cowritten by Bill Greeves, chief information officer of Wake County, N.C., and founder of MuniGov2.0, a Web 2.0 space for govies.

And, aptly enough, the book materialized as a result of social media. Greeves used the “networking tactic” to engage co-author Ines Mergel, assistant professor of public administration at Syracuse University, into penning a reference guide.

“You do not need to read this book from cover to cover before you start your own experimentation with social media,” the authors say in their preface. But what if you don’t know where to begin? “The Tools: Where Do I Start” section includes a table of the best-known social networking services for government use. From Facebook and ­GovLoop to LinkedIn, the authors describe their effectiveness in the public sector and offer examples of how they’re used.

Also of value are case studies of individuals like Dustin Haisler, former assistant city manager and CIO of Manor, Texas, who tells how the small city went big time with QR codes and adoption of social technologies. Haisler recalled that citizens were gravitating toward social media networks regardless of government use or policy, so Manor began experimenting on how to engage its residents.

Government Technology