Open communication and strong relationships are central to Scott Horvath’s social media success.
Government often is seen as slow and mired in red tape, but U.S. Geological Survey Web and Social Media Coordinator Scott Horvath is doing his part to reverse that stereotype.
In mid-March, the Union of Concerned Scientists released a report grading federal scientific agencies on the effectiveness and accessibility of their social media policies. The advocacy group gave USGS relatively high marks for its policies, but noted many areas for improvement.
Within four hours, Horvath told the group—via Twitter—that his agency had taken the recommendations into account and had updated its social media policies accordingly. One UCS blogger said the agency’s response came faster than the time it took him to figure out dinner plans.
“I guess that response was fast, but in my mind it just seemed like common sense,” says Horvath, a nine-year veteran of USGS.
Horvath began his career at the agency as an app developer in 2004. He got involved in social media just as the federal government began pushing for a larger digital presence, and has been the point person for USGS’ social media efforts ever since.
He says a major reason he could respond so quickly to the Union of Concerned Scientists’ recommendations was that he had developed a good rapport with colleagues in USGS’ ethics office. Horvath also says open lines of communication with employees looking to use social media have helped promote best practices and ensure mistakes are corrected early in the learning process.
It is much easier to move quickly if “you have that sort of relationship already there,” Horvath says.