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Social Media
The White House said the First Lady wanted “to give young people every- where a fun way to follow her trip.” Followers were promised photos and videos of trips and events, photos of the official White House garden, and guest appearances from Bo and Sunny, the First Family’s dogs.
Most agencies can’t match the celebrity appeal of Michelle Obama, of course, but the idea behind official Snapchat accounts is the same: provid- ing a fun way for young people to inter- act with the government.
As the government’s official web portal, the General Services Admin- istration’s seeks to make it easier for people to get the information they need online. GSA joined Snapchat on March 31 as a way to help young people find the right government ser- vices when they register to vote, get a driver’s license or apply for student loans.
GSA officials knew that agencies were reaching an older audience via Facebook and other social media platforms, so they started monitoring Snapchat in the past year to see how it evolved.
“We realized in some regards, yes, maybe we were communicating to the parents on the other channels, but we wanted the opportunity to connect directly with that younger audience, and we thought Snapchat would be a great way to do that,” said Jessica Mil- cetich, a digital media strategist at GSA.
It also helped that Snapchat began allowing users to send stories that last 24 hours rather than only photos that disappear after 10 seconds.
“Stories give you the flexibility to do a little more,” Milcetich said.
Last fall, GSA developed a plan to ensure that Snapchat’s terms of services would be federal friendly. Once those terms were ironed out in March, USA. gov started snapping. To appeal to the sense of whimsy unique to Snapchat, GSA took a cue from the way sports teams use mascots.
“We try to put out information that’s really useful but in a fun way,” Milcetich said. “It’s putting that friendly face to the government.”
Milcetich and a part-time colleague run the account and aim to send out at least one story a week. “Our strat- egy with Snapchat is to only put out a
story when we have something really compelling,” she said.
The goal is to get young people to watch the fun stories and share them with friends so they’ll be more inclined to watch the serious stories. For example, after the June 12 shooting at an Orlando, Fla., nightclub, shared a support number that follow- ers could text if they needed someone to talk to.
The account had nearly 800 follow- ers as of July 11, and Milcetich said it has had steady, continual growth. Most of’s followers are young, but it does have followers “older than Gen Z who are curious to see what we’re doing.”
Creating a persona
The National Museum of African Ameri- can History and Culture (NMAAHC) is using Snapchat to garner interest and excitement for its Sept. 24 grand open- ing on the National Mall.
It all started when Lanae Spruce, the museum’s digital engagement specialist, wanted to download Snapchat filters to apply to photos for other social media platforms. She thought the only way to
The content is playful, but government Snapchat accounts are building audiences for serious outreach.
24 July 30, 2016 FCW.COM

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