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social media moments 2011

Social Media Moment Number One: Redesigning USDA

If you've been following our favorite Social Media Moments of 2011, you can see we had a lot to choose from. Top on our list isn't necessarily a social media moment, but is an important moment in our focus on providing better service through web communication. The redesign of in April 2011 was only the beginning of changes we're making with our web program - USDA agencies are working to redesign their websites in 2012 for a consistent user experience and we consolidated many websites to streamline access to information, making it easier to find information that's important to you.

We chose this launch because it is a shining example of the platform that we at USDA are working to build and maintain that is relevant and responsive to your needs. This redesign was a collaborative effort with our agencies and based on insights and feedback of our users. Your feedback is important to us, and we want you to be sure that your voice is always heard.

With Social Media, Your News Becomes Our News

Here in the Office of Communications at USDA, we work hard every day to get news and information out the digital door and into the hands of our diverse stakeholders. This steady flow of information takes the form of press releases, tweets, photos, videos, blogs and more. With the growing popularity of social media channels, this flow of information is increasingly a two-way street. In 2011 some of our best resources came from you, our readers. On two occasions we put out specific requests for your photos to personalize issues, and the responses were overwhelming.  Through the power of social media, we were able give our audience the chance to help tell the story for us, and that is our number 2 Social Media Moment of 2011.

When First Lady Michelle Obama and Secretary Vilsack announced the new food icon, MyPlate, in June, we asked you to snap a picture of your plate and use the hashtag #MyPlate to show us how MyPlate became your plate. Photos of creative plates came rolling in showing us how you use the icon to help build the foundation for your healthy diet. There were - and still are - some healthy and tasty creations posted to Twitter!

World Veterinary Year Celebrates More than Just a Profession

In any large organization, it can be easy to overlook the contributions of individuals, each with unique stories and perspective. With this in mind, USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) was proud to mark the 250th anniversary of the veterinary profession by offering a series of weekly blogs showcasing a different APHIS veterinarian each Thursday. Written in first person, the “world veterinary year” blogs share career paths - from dream to reality – and put a face on the sometimes overlooked aspects of 'on-the-ground' USDA employees. It is this creative use of social media to effectively showcase the rich personality of our workforce that makes this series our number 4 favorite new media moment.

The 2011 Capitol Christmas Tree Checks-In at Number 6

Every year, the Christmas tree that graces the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol originates from one of our country’s National Forests. It may not be widely known that the USDA’s Forest Service is instrumental in facilitating the Capitol Christmas Tree’s transport from the forest to the Washington, DC, yet it’s a proud tradition that has steadily gained attention each year with the growing popularity of social media tools. The 2011 annual trek is our number 6 favorite social media moment.

DC Quake Rocked the District, but the Tweets Rolled On

Number seven on our list of Social Media Moments was our August Twitter chat with Food and Nutrition Service’s Under Secretary, Kevin Concannon and ABC’s Dr. Richard Besser.  This edition of Dr. Besser’s weekly live chat addressed hunger in America and allowed audience members to pose questions to Under Secretary Concannon via Twitter. This was a great opportunity for us as we opened our virtual doors to many individuals who might not otherwise be able to “speak” directly to our key official on the issue.

Although the Under Secretary and other agency leadership often travel to schools, food banks, community centers and other venues to talk about hunger and nutrition issues, this Twitter chat was a little bit different.  This wasn’t a planned speech or a more common scheduled Tweet from our blog. The Twitter chat was Concannon having a conversation with people he had never met but who gathered virtually around an important issue. Sitting in the room around our laptop with the Tweet-stream projected on the wall, we were able to use our well-established Twitter channel in a more nimble and free-flowing manner, rather than just a broadcast.

Sharing our Harvest Festival, Virtually

We're fortunate to have a functional garden right at our doorstep in Washington, DC. The People's Garden is always buzzing with plantings, harvest and learning opportunities for employees and visitors alike. Every fall, The People's Garden team puts together a Harvest Festival celebrating the end of the growing season with food, recipes, games and entertainment. Although there are People's Gardens sprouting up worldwide, we know most of our blog readers and Twitter followers wouldn't be able to attend.

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year: Our Favorite Social Media Moments from 2011

As 2011 draws to an end, this is a time where we begin to look back on things we learned or achieved, and to make resolutions for the year ahead.  We wanted to take the end of 2011 to look back on the wide range of social media activities that we had the pleasure of planning, executing and watching unfold across the Department in an effort to better serve you, our most important audience. From Twitter chats, to video challenges, to new ways to share valuable data, we think USDA really upped the ante on the social media front this year.