Federal agencies ranked on Twitter engagement

New study purports to measure how which agencies are good at getting feedback on Twitter

 

While nearly all federal agencies have created a presence on Twitter and collected followers, only a few are really engaging with citizens in those networks, according to a new study that attempts to measure citizen engagement.

ExpertLabs examined 125 federal agencies with Twitter accounts on its new Federal Social Media Index. For the week ending Nov. 27, they counted how many times the agencies asked for feedback, and how much feedback they received. For example, if an agency put out 10 inquires, and received 10 responses, that would be a 100 percent response rate.

Just having a lot of followers isn't enough to show real engagement. If no one is responding to an agency's tweets, it might not be doing as well at engaging with citizens as it appears.

According to the study, the U.S. Mint, Homeland Security Department, U.S. Marine Corps and National Park Foundation averaged the highest response rate for the initial week of the study.

US Mint tweeted one question and received seven responses, for a response rate of 700 percent, the highest in the week. DHS officials tweeted four questions, and received 18 responses, with a 450 percent response rate. Also highly engaged were the park foundation, with a 425 percent response rate, followed by the Marines, 417 percent.

At the other end of the spectrum, the Energy Information Administration, Veterans Health Administration, Commerce Department, Defense Contracting Audit Agency, Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration and Centers for Disease Control all had zero responses to their tweets during that week, the study said.

Overall, there were 231 questions asked on Twitter by the agencies, and 178 responses, for an overall response rate of 77 percent for the week. Many of the agencies asked no questions at all.

While it's obvious the federal government has embraced social media on Twitter and Facebook, "each organization uses them in different ways and it's tricky to tell who's doing it well,” Andy Baio, director of data publishing for ExpertLabs, wrote in a blog announcement of the study. . “Some use it for press releases alone, while others are soliciting opinions from the public and replying constantly.”

“Our hope is that the (index) helps bring the people behind these accounts together, helping them learn from each other's efforts, as well as informing any future agencies getting ready to make the plunge,” Baio added.





About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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