As its Star Trek videos launch, Social Security tries to connect with younger citizens

Patty Duke and Mr. Sulu (aka, George Takei) want you to boldly go where you may never have gone before: (At least if you’re under 65.)The short, commercial length spots make no bones about Takai’s time on Star Trek, so to speak, and are laced with references to the iconic television series.

In another, Takei and Duke encourage viewers to “Go Direct” to get direct deposits of monthly social security checks. (No way to beam those over, Scotty?) While the new slate of videos, Social Security is making an effort to connect with older Americans through the aging icons of 20th Century pop culture. As my colleague Luke Fretwell put it, Social Security has gone Star Trek.

If the spots help an increasingly digital cohort of senior citizens to learn about and relevant benefits, the cornball humor might have been worth the investment.

On the same day that the Star Trek videos launched however, the Social Security Administration also posted the full version of a webinar for young people wondering. The webinar, below, is the first official communications from the agency the contains information about the future of the program for young workers.

To say that there’s a contrast in styles between the two communication efforts is an understatement. The care with which the agency has had to take in communicating about an uncertain future, as opposed to trying to raise awareness of an improved website, is notable. This more recent example of how Social Security operates in the Gov 2.0 era drives how just how difficult operating in the new media environment will be for many agencies.

Will Social Security get social media? Hard to say. They’re trying. The @SocialSecurity Twitter wasn’t able to attract the attention of Takei or produce much engagement. Facebook produced slightly better results, but no obvious spike in awareness or viewership of the webinar.

If you have any thoughts on their success, failure or what they could or should be doing better, the comments are open.

Alexander B. Howard is a DC-based a technology writer and editor. Previously, he was the Washington Correspondent at O'Reilly Media, where he covered the voices, technologies and issues that matter in the intersection of government, technology and society. If you're feeling social, you can follow him on Twitter, like him on Facebook or circle him on Google Plus In addition to corresponding for the O’Reilly Radar, he has contributed to the Huffington Post, Govfresh, Mashable, ReadWriteWeb, National Journal, The Atlantic, CBS News and Forbes. He graduated from Colby College with a bachelor's degree in biology and sociology. Currently, he is a resident of the District of Columbia, where he lives with his greyhound, wife, power tools, plants and growing collection of cast iron pans, many of which are frequently used to pursue his passion for good cooking.


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