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Increasing Accessibility Through Social Media at NRC

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Thu Aug 20 2015

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Increasing Accessibility Through Social Media at NRC-7a3dae81e5f1b731b10dd82eae4dbc2c4150e5cbf555e69cc111027c6ee44de6

As an independent regulator of nuclear materials for the United States, the NRC can find it challenging to connect to a social media audience. Discussions are complicated by anxiety and misunderstandings about nuclear power and the topic in generates both strong opposition and support. Despite these challenges, we’ve had success using social media to engage the public and help make complicated concepts and topics more accessible. 

One of our first challenges, before we even got to the public, was gaining internal support for using social media platforms. Not only did our cyber security staff have issues with such non-government platforms as WordPress and Twitter, but also our employees were skeptical of the overall concept. We conducted meetings throughout the agency explaining why we wanted to use these tools and how they could help employees’ communication efforts. Time and success boosted acceptance. 

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Our blog was a key part of that acceptance. Staff saw how effective it could be in translating complex topics into information the public could understand — although that was a learning curve as well, because technical experts weren’t always comfortable with the blog’s plain language. 

In addition to our blog, the NRC uses Twitter as an announcement tool for a variety of messages. Our Facebook page is used as a bridge between the blog and Twitter, and we post educational videos on our YouTube channel. Flickr is used as an online photo gallery. We send traffic between the various platforms to create synergy. For example, a photo on the website can be found in Fickr with a caption that links to a blog post or YouTube video. 

Social media does not just happen. It takes careful planning, integration into existing internal and external communication programs, and staff to generate interesting and relevant content. But it’s a wonderful tool to use to communicate directly with an audience, and it definitely helps to increase agency transparency and visibility to the general public.  

Are you ready for the challenge of new media? Join me for my session, “Social Media Strategies for Customer-Centered Government,” at Government Workforce: Learning Innovations.  I will discuss how to make public services more accessible by implementing strategies that create a customer-centered government in the digital age.

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