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Some Earth Day Results

Earth Day (April 22) is a big deal at EPA, and it’s an especially good opportunity for my Web team to shine because traffic spikes that week. And this year is the 40th anniversary of both Earth Day and EPA, so it’s even bigger than usual.

My stated goal each year is to “blow away” what we did the previous year.   I mean that literally – I use exactly those words.  This has yielded some very good things:

2007: Daily tip widget, seen 1 million times monthly (and that widget set off a flood of others).

2008: Greenversations blog and photo contest with 750 entries

2009: Pick 5 for the Environment and bilingual daily tip podcasts (English | Spanish)

2010: It’s My Environment participatory video project (First compilation | instructions) and Pick 5 International (thanks to our friends at the State Dept!).

Of course, we do lots of things each Earth Day, not just these key projects.  Here are some results:

  • Home page daily views jumped nearly 40% on Earth Day:
    • 4/21: 37,000
    • 4/22: 51,000
  • Earth Day home page daily views more than doubled:
    • 4/21: 16,000
    • 4/22: 39,000
  • Pick 5 daily views nearly tripled:
    • 4/21: 4300
    • 4/22: 11,700
  • In the first year of Pick 5, we got about 4,000 signups.  Since we launched Pick 5 International a week ago, we’ve gotten 2400 new signups, 1200 of them yesterday.
  • The It’s My Environment compilation video, which went live with closed captioning, was viewed more than 400 times.  In one day, it’s been seen by more than 50% of all EPA videos on YouTube.
  • We took advantage of the new coding in our home page to embed a video message from Administrator Jackson.
  • About 15 people in 10 cities started live tweeting Earth Day events and will continue through this weekend’s festivities @epalive.

Want to learn more?  I’m teaching a webinar on how we combine Web 1.0 and 2.0 tools for our Earth Month outreach May 5, 3-4:30.


Open Gov Turns One

So … blogging.  Wow.  It’s been months.  It’s not that I haven’t thought of stuff to write, but rather that I’ve been so busy at work that I’m too tired once I’m home.

But today brought two fun things: being in a documentary about open government and then being mentioned on the Washington Post’s site as they discuss the documentary.  The documentary shows several folks talking about what open government means, how it’s going, and challenges we face.  Chris Quigley, the filmmaker, did a great job piecing together different bits so the viewer hears different perspectives on the same topic.  On Chris’ Web page, you can view the video or individual interviews.

I’m very excited about what’s coming with open government.  I’m now heavily involved in pulling together EPA’s open gov’t page (it’ll be at and our open gov’t plan.  I’m proud that we’re going to do better than the requirements laid out in the open gov’t directive.  And I’m also happy that we’ll be able to showcase what we’ve been doing all along.  Open gov’t concepts aren’t new at EPA, but this will be the first time we’ve provided access to them as a whole.

My day-to-day job mostly focuses on communications, so my team’s contributions go far toward participation, as opposed to the collaboration and transparency aspects of open gov’t (although we did create the mechanism for publishing senior EPA managers schedules).  And that stuff’s fun and produces solid results.  But right from the beginning, what’s most gotten me revved up is the prospect for people we’ve never really engaged to help us choose good policies.

That’s why I keep giving my talks to senior managers about social media.

And we’re seeing good things happening, from our enforcement office’s months-long discussion forum about enforcement priorities to the current discussion about solid waste.

And we keep exploring new ways of connecting to the public, like broadcasting our announcement about the greenhouse gas endangerment finding. That was the first time we’d ever used that tool, but only nine days later,  we used it again to allow the public to ask questions about Superfund.  And more’s coming in that vein.

We’ll also keep going on stuff like video contests.  We have so many in the queue at the moment that we’re having to plan months in advance.

So the past year has been good, but I think I’ll have trouble this time next year deciding what to highlight!

Can you help me ID sites to post job openings?

The official place to post federal job openings is

But we’re also allowed to post them on other online job sites. I’m guessing we’ll simply describe the jobs in plain language and then link to the usajobs listing.

So I’m looking for suggestions. Whatcha know?

Especially helpful would be links to articles or other lists where people rate the sites for # of users, ease of use, etc.

I’ll keep adding to the list below as people submit them via comments.


Sites I already know of:


How and Why I Friend Who I Do and Where

I started using Facebook and Twitter as professional experiments. I needed to know about these sites to decide whether and how EPA should use them. I also had a LinkedIn account that sat unused for years, and I joined GovLoop. Along the way, I set up accounts on Slideshare and Scribd to share my presentations and EPA’s blogging guidance.

But Facebook, Twitter and GovLoop are where I spend my time, and I’ve settled into a distinct pattern: Facebook is personal and the others are professional.

When I say I use Facebook for personal purposes, I don’t mean I include only non-work people. In fact, most of my friends there are from work, whether at EPA or not. But I use it mostly for sharing non-work stuff: my photos, funny stuff, etc. I’m pretty happy with how I choose friends there, too. I recently reviewed the couple hundred friends there, and I deleted very few. I do get a steady stream of Facebook friend invites from people I’ve met in various ways. I respond politely to ask whether we know each other, explaining I use that site to stay in touch with real-life friends. I also tell people I accept all friend requests at GovLoop.

Twitter, to me, is an extremely valuable professional networking tool. The people I follow help me filter the flood of relevant info, help me think through problems, and share their own ideas in a way that’s very easy for me to absorb as I have time. That’s why I don’t follow back everyone who follows me. There’s no reason that people who might be interested in my musings on gov’t and social media necessarily talk about that topic themselves. I also know there are loads of people who do, but I don’t spend much time looking. I can’t keep up with the people I do follow. But if you talk to me using an @ reply, I usually respond.

GovLoop is really an amazing resource. I wish I had more time to spend. The percentage of stuff that’s relevant to me is very high, whether it’s as a federal gov’t web manager, a federal employee in general, someone committed to gov 2.0, or just a social media user. Since it’s all professional, and I can’t think of any reason not to, I accept all friend requests there.

LinkedIn is a special case. I believe in LinkedIn’s original premise: personal contacts. I don’t mean to be rude or mean if I reject a connection request from someone I don’t know. And I know many people use it as a massive networking tool. But I don’t use it as a general contact file. I actually barely use it, which makes it more important to me that I connect only with people I genuinely know and could say something about.

Why am I telling you this? Because I think my usage pattern is just one of many, and I want to make the point that there’s no single right way of doing it. But I also think we’re all entitled to use these tools as we see fit. I’ve had people tell me it’s wrong to reject a LinkedIn request or a FB friend request. I’m sorry, but I respectfully disagree.

BTW: this blog is another example of where we have to use the tools as appropriate. I realized recently I hadn’t found time to write anything substantial in several weeks. But that just reflects how busy I’ve been. I’m sure I’ll pick up the pace again at some point.

Anyway, how do YOU use the tools, and the opportunities they create? Maybe I’m missing something!

Fantastic Thinking

Go read this post by Steve Radick: Gov 2.0 – We Need to Get Past the Honeymoon Stage of Our Relationship

Be sure to read every link he provides, too.  In particular, read this bit of strategic thinking from Chris Brogan and this concept for an event focusing on the Shortfalls of Government 2.0.

And then join the conversation in the comments on Steve’s post.

A Sampling of EPA Social Media

I’d like to invite you to check out a few of the ways we’re using social media here at EPA. This isn’t all of it, and our uses are expanding rapidly, but it’s a good start.

I’m also not getting into great detail about whether I think each effort is successful – that’s not my point here.  Rather, I just want to share some of it so you can see what we’re up to and consider for yourself whether it seems to work, whether it would work for your agency, etc. – our blog, Greenversations. My presentation about how we run it, our goals, etc. is here:

In particular, you might be interested to see how we ask a weekly non-policy question ( – our policy discussion forum built on our blog server. This is where we invited input on how we should prioritize our enforcement office’s efforts for the next three years. The questions all got pretty good response, but this one got 72! – Pick 5 for the Environment. This is the project where we invite people to choose 5 of 10 environmental actions and commit to them. We’ve also set up a Facebook fan page, a Flickr group, a YouTube group, and a Twitter hashtag, all accessible from the page. This is a good example of “fail fast.” We did it very lightweight to start with, and discovered it didn’t go viral. Now we’re examining what we can do to engage people more. One way is that we’re posting to our blog every two weeks, along with sending an email to the 14,000 people on the Pick 5 mailing list, inviting them to share their stories. Each post is about one of the 10 actions. The latest one just went live today, but we got 70 responses to the first one. The whole series is here: – our Earth Day page. On the right side, you can find links to our daily environmental tip podcast (published daily during last April), the photo and video projects,and the daily env. tip widget. At the top, you’ll see a random banner each time you reload. Most of the pictures were finalists from our 2008 Earth Day photo contest, and you’ll see we give them credit in the photos. – our widgets. We currently are working to bring them all into a common look and feel and include a “share” button. – our main Facebook fan page. – our radon video contest. Watch the winner! It cost us $2500 in prize money, but was worth every penny. One thing to consider with video contests is how many people each entry affects. It’s not just the folks who make the video who get engaged, but everyone they show it to. Thinking just of myself, I’d bet everyone who entered shared their video with everyone they knew. – our YouTube channel. – our home page, where you can see links to social media offerings in the lower right corner. – Our page describing most of our social media efforts, including links to our Facebook and Twitter accounts

Finally, on most EPA pages, you can see a “share” link in the upper right corner. Click it, and you’ll get the option to share that page’s URL on a variety of social media sites. We coded up our own “bookmarklet” instead of using commercial options for various reasons.

EPA’s web site views

EPA’s site has 400,000 HTML pages.

Guess how many of them (or what %) were viewed more than 100 times in July?

More on this after a while.

I’m on Twitter @levyj413