Last week Twitter, released its “Best Practices for Government” and it got me thinking about my experiences with using Twitter as a govvy (government employee).

I was hesitant about Twitter when I first signed up almost five years ago, hence the reason I didn’t use my full name (first name and birthdate = @jodilynne3), as I wanted to try it out first – not realizing at the time that once you develop relationships with others, it is difficult to change your handle, it becomes part of your online identity. The same goes for your avatar; I have not changed mine since I opened the account, as it can sometimes become confusing for those that may only know you as a tiny photo.

I discovered a whole new world via Twitter. It has made me realize that I have colleagues outside my small work unit – all over the country, in fact, that are passionate about making a difference in the public service. If it wasn’t for Twitter, I would not have had the opportunity to connect with so many of my Government of Canada (GoC) colleagues, where the departmental and regional boundaries have magically melted away.

I have developed a trusted community that I can reach out to, and we have collaborated virtually on multiple projects. Recently, I was a presenter for the “Twitter Best Practices for Govvys” Clicks and Tips webinar. The night before, I put a question out to my tweeps (Twitter network) asking them to share their best practices and tips. I was so impressed with the wealth of responses I received throughout the evening and into the next day. To me, this is a true picture of the influence of Twitter – asking a question and getting an unlimited cross-section of reputable responses.  I have seen countless examples of this within the past five years.

“Govvys” are using Twitter to connect and collaborate with their colleagues, share articles of interest and information, keep up to date on current workplace trends, ask questions, and promote events. Until Twitter came along, I had never seen so many colleagues eager and excited about the release of the Clerk of the Privy Council’s annual report or the Speech from the Throne.

Another benefit to Twitter is that individuals are live-tweeting key messages at conferences, workshops, and events that they attend – if others can’t be there in-person, they are able to experience the highlights based on all the tweets from participants.

Twitter is not like Facebook or LinkedIn where you have to already know the person before you can connect with them. It is a compliment to follow someone you don’t know; it means you think they have something interesting to say. Follow your GoC colleagues and start interacting with them. There is a full list of them on GCPEDIA – that is how you can begin to establish virtual connections.

Take the opportunity to meet your Twitter connections in-person. To me, there is nothing quite like face-to-face interaction. Whenever I travel I always reach out to my virtual connections so we can meet in-person, and for those I have already met, I love having the opportunity to see them outside the 140 characters on Twitter.

With the new Policy on Acceptable Network and Device Use and Blueprint 2020, my department has “opened the gates” to Twitter and other social media sites. This is a big step for the Public Service and I hope to see other departments follow suit in the future.

Twitter is such a powerful tool. If you haven’t tried it yet I encourage you to sign up today and reap the benefits – you won’t be disappointed. Feel free to contact me and I would be happy to help you get started. I hope to see you in the Twitterverse soon.

Jodi LeBlanc
Jodi LeBlanc is a Values and Ethics Advisor with Veterans Affairs Canada in Prince Edward Island. She is a collaborator/innovator for numerous public service initiatives and national networks and is a member of CGE’s editorial advisory board. You can connect with her via @jodilynne3 or