Social Media

Can social media analytics and open data pair up?

Shutterstock image: social media conversation.

While many federal agencies have been using some form of analytics to follow their social media accounts for years, Twitter's announcement last week that its analytics dashboard will be open to all users could provide a broader reach into social government and open data communities.

Social media analytics have been instrumental in monitoring and assessing the progress of agency programs and government engagement with citizens, said GSA social media manager Justin Herman, but improved Twitter analytics could lead to more enhanced performance dashboards by presenting the material in a consistent format.

GSA now uses its own digital analytics program to measure its Twitter engagement, but Herman said the agency is keeping its eye on the progress of the analytical capabilities Twitter is providing.

While it may be easy to jump on the shiniest new analytics program, GSA is "careful to diversify our holdings and not put our eggs in one basket," he said, especially since GSA can't dictate the pace of progress for Twitter.

But improved Twitter analytics is good news for digital government teams trying to engage citizens—the more information available about people on Twitter, the better able government will be to reach them.

Tim Fullerton, director of digital strategy at the Interior Department, said Interior has been using Twitter analytics for years to see who its social media efforts are reaching.

"We look at the data across all social media platforms, to see what the public wants us to be engaging with them on," Fullerton said. "That's why we focus on posting photos of public lands -- because that's what they are interested in."

Twitter analytics can now be exported in machine readable spreadsheets, but Herman hopes future reports are formatted so they can be combined with other reports and fed into a dashboard system to create real-time performance snap shots.

An event at the White House last month brought together more than 100 open data and digital engagement managers from across government and yielded a new collaborative document for collecting ideas and plans on "how to best integrate together the digital engagement and open data communities for improved performance of our programs," Herman wrote in a blog post on GSA's website.

About the Author

Colby Hochmuth is a staff writer covering big data, cloud computing and the federal workforce. Connect with her on Twitter: @ColbyAnn.

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