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August 12, 2011 / caitlynzim

@MarineCadastre has Launched!

It was a month in the making but I finally succeeded in starting a Twitter account for the Multipurpose Marine Cadastre (MMC)! So, those of you on Twitter, go follow it!

The full process was of course, more than a month in the making. It began with the idea at the end of June. I mentioned that I thought it would be a good idea and described some of the more basic benefits of Twitter and how retweeting and other Twitter features could allow us to reach a much larger audience than we could on our own. I was given the go ahead to begin researching this idea. I had to determine pros and cons of having a Twitter account as well as the process behind getting an account and who would keep up the account. I dove right in making myself a ‘Twitter Expert’; I researched (among other things) how Twitter is used by other businesses and government agencies, statistics on the success of Twitter, what MMC users and stakeholder were already using Twitter, the government application process (seemed straight forward at the time) and after participating in the ‘Twitter 101: Twitter for Government Agencies’ seminar presented by Emily Crum, the Director of Communications for National Ocean Service, I felt prepared.

I met with the group of people here at NOAA’s Coastal Service Center who are the masterminds behind the MMC. We first went over the basics of Twitter; How to post, what to post, government restrictions to posting, what retweeting is, what mentioning means, how to shorten URLs, how to track hits on shortened URLs and the potentially viral nature of Twitter in general. Basically, I tried not to confuse anyone too much. Then we discussed the pros and cons of having an account for the MMC as well as the logistical effort that would need to back it. At the end of that meeting is when I proposed the idea that I could continue working with the Center during my next year of grad school and thereby create a symbiotic relationship: I helped them by investigating and controlling their social media and they helped me by giving me a great topic for my master’s project. Twitter for the MMC was a go! Well the application was a go…

After determining a name that was no more than 14 characters and contained no abbreviations, not an easy task with a name like Multipurpose Marine Cadastre, the form required 2 points of contact (at least one federally employed – not contracted), predictions of how often we planned on tweeting, a logo that included the NOAA picture (even though the MMC is not just NOAA, it’s BOEMRE, too), and a summary of how the account would benefit the overall goal of the project; I’m probably leaving things out as well. Then the fun started.

After hitting the submit button, one of two reviewers from the National Ocean Service (NOS) needed to be emailed in order to alert them to the fact that an application was submitted. Not sure why, but hitting the submit button does not automatically alert anyone to the newly filed application and therefore it has the chance to sit in limbo if the applicant forgets to inform the reviewers. Must be my naivety, I thought that was an element that was inherent when coding a submit button.

After passing through these two reviewers, NOAA and Department of Commerce (DOC) had to review the application to get formal approval. This – in our case – ended up taking an extremely long time due to the fact that the application/review process just happened to start getting updated and modified during this time period. Other NOAA accounts say that this whole process doesn’t take more than a couple weeks, but ours took a little over a month.

Finally, we are tweeting! If you aren’t following us yet, do so! We don’t tweet often but when we do it’s good information on reliable ocean data!

Current stats: following – 79, followers – 33, tweets – 8, webhits – 150+ (and counting!)…looking good for our first few weeks!

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