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Tweeting Away at EPA

2009 July 17

Last fall, I wrote about this blog’s Twitter account, @greenversations. Since then, several folks across EPA have been trying out Twitter, with varying approaches.  Today, I got this question from Randa Williams, a researcher at the University of Washington who’s looking into best practices for businesses on Twitter:

I wonder when you will start having conversations rather than just broadcasting on twitter…Lots of EPA broadcast channels on Twitter, exceptionally few conversations. I know, engagement is more work, wondering if you had thought about expanding into this area.

It was such a good question, I thought I’d respond publicly as well as emailing her.

Randa is right: the gold standard is conversing on Twitter and other social media sites, not just broadcasting. But she’s also right that it takes resources.  Not just someone’s time, but also having the right person, who’s plugged into what’s going on around EPA and who knows how to speak to the world on EPA’s behalf.

There are also different ways to use Twitter, and we’re experimenting with most of them.  For example, we’ve done a little live tweeting, with plans to do more.  There are also different approaches to who to follow, how frequently we can commit to posting, etc.

We do have a couple of good examples of interaction for content on a smaller scale than “all of EPA:”

While we figure out the gold standard (interaction), we’re doing what we can on what I call the tin standard (broadcasting). Given the number of followers, it seems a decent number of people appreciate even that.  Here are some of our other accounts:

  • @EPAgov – our main account.  Primarily our automated news release headlines and blog posts, plus a few web updates and manual tweets.  This account combines content that’s also split into individual accounts, and is also available on normal Web pages:
  • @EPAlive – we’re occasionally experimenting with using this for live tweeting
  • @EPAowow – Office of Wetlands, Oceans and Watersheds
  • @EPAairmarketsmarket-based regulatory programs to improve U.S. air quality
  • @EPAregion2 – regional office in New York
  • @EPAregion3 – regional office in Philadelphia

We’re also working up some conventions, like starting our account names with “usepa” and using the same seal as the avatar.

Not quite in the same category, some of us are also tweeting professionally. We’re not “representing” EPA per se, but we’re using it as a professional network and information source.  For example:

  • @levyj413 – this is my Twitter account, and I use it to discuss social media in government (especially EPA)
  • @suzack777 – this is Suzanne Ackerman on our web team.  Suzanne uses Twitter to research projects like blogger outreach, and uses Twitter to make contacts and discuss related issues.

So thanks, Randa, for reminding me that we need to communicate more about what we’re up to.  Stay tuned for updates about our other social media efforts, too (in the meantime, join us on Facebook!).

Jeffrey Levy is EPA’s Director of Web Communications.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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14 Responses leave one →
  1. Lina-EPA permalink*
    July 17, 2009

    Loved your entry on EPA Twittering. Listing all the EPA Twitter accounts is useful. Didn’t know we had so many.

  2. Travis Loop permalink
    July 17, 2009

    You can also follow @chesbayprogram to get the latest scoop from the Chesapeake Bay Program, a partnership involving EPA, the six states in the Bay watershed, the District of Columbia, the Chesapeake Bay Commission and about 10 other federal agencies. While mostly used for pushing out news, we have also tweeted live from events and posed questions to followers.

    Enjoyed the blog post Jeff!

  3. Randy permalink
    July 17, 2009


  4. Timonie permalink
    July 17, 2009

    Thanks for the EPA Twitter information

    Here are some additional Green Twitter leaders folks may
    want to follow:

    Mashable +75 Environmentalists to Follow

    WiserEarth’s 15 Changemakers to Follow

    Keep up the great EPA Tweeting!

  5. melissaEPA permalink
    July 23, 2009

    One more EPA twitter account focused on our Agency’s research:

    On Thursday 7/23/2009 and the morning of Friday 7/24 we’ll be tweeting live about a biodiversity and human health field research project.

  6. melissaEPA permalink
    July 29, 2009

    Correction to the Agency’s research twitter account!
    Just like the others in the Agency effective 7/28/2009 we’ve dropped the “US”
    so follow us at:


  7. Mike permalink
    November 14, 2009

    First of all, it’s great to see that you have a blog, even if I just found it! Twitter’s value as a way to communicate and manage your reputation is finally starting to catch on with gov’t agencies and “big” business.
    Facebook and LinkedIn are two more social networking sites that you may want to consider if you haven’t already done so.
    In my opinion social media is the future and it’s here now.

  8. janessa permalink
    January 9, 2010

    Twitter would definitely help you build traffic. Twitter is a micro blogging service that allows people to share what they are doing at any given time in 140 characters or less. Many people will use twitter to let the community know that they’ve updated their blog. There are automated ways to do that or you can do it manually.

  9. linda permalink
    July 23, 2010

    Welcome to the world of micro blogging. Don’t worry I’ll follow you on twitter. This can help you reach more people and make them more aware of their surroundings. Thanks and regards.

  10. LP Bell permalink
    July 27, 2010


    This is a great mash-up for followers to have! Thanks to EPA.

    I would like to propose an application that me and the company i’ve been working for used and still uses for marketing purposes.

    It’s called the TwitterFeed:
    It can automatically tweet posts published on a user’s blog using RSS. Exemple the EPA RSS has a feed that could be used for your Tweeter account(s). Yes, you can have multiple accounts too.

    To answer Janessa:
    Yes Twitter helps your traffic! More users means more reads.

    Hope it’s going to be as helpfull as it’s been for me.

    PS: keep those good posts coming! This is rare good information…

  11. LP Bell permalink
    July 27, 2010

    Oh did i mention to your Facebook page as well!


  12. Lorenzo Orlando Caum permalink
    March 17, 2011

    Great to see engagement on social media via


  13. sunnny permalink
    September 9, 2011

    nice this is very nice info

  14. May 4, 2012

    Loved your entry on EPA Twittering. Listing all the EPA Twitter accounts is useful. Didn’t know we had so many.

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