Agencies scored on Twitter use

While many federal agencies are actively tweeting messages on Twitter, measuring the agency’s true engagement on the social network is a complex task involving more than just counting tweets and followers, according to a new study.

OhMyGov Inc. analytics identified the U.S. Army as being most engaged on Twitter based on how often its tweets were retweeted, proportionately, while the National Institute of Mental Health, NASA, U.S. Navy, Radio and TV Marti, USDA and a handful of other agencies also scored high.

OhMyGov said it assessed the agencies with the most outgoing tweets and retweets in a recent week. The results were analyzed for two separate ratios: retweets per outgoing tweet, and retweets per follower.

“The analysis yielded two Top 10 lists of federal agencies: those who earn the most retweets per tweet and those with the most engaged audience,” Rachel Greenway, staff writer, wrote in the OhMyGov blog.

Taking both into the account, the U.S. Army’s Twitter account performed the strongest on both tests for the week, OhMyGov said.

In the first analysis performed, tweets from the National Institute of Mental Health’s Twitter account were found to have the highest rate of retweets, in comparison to those of other agencies. Each tweet from the institute is retweeted an average of 7.4 times, the study showed. The institute has relatively low activity on its Twitter feed, sending out only 618 tweets to date to its 203,000 followers. At the same time, it has the highest rate of retweets.

Others that scored high:

  • NASA, with 6.6 retweets per tweet. It has more than 2 million followers and has sent out more than 19,000 tweets to date.
  • U.S. Army, 6.3
  • Smithsonian, 6.3
  • U.S. Agency for International Development, 5.5
  • USDA, 4.4
  • Federal Communications Commission, 4.2
  • National Science Foundation, 3.9
  • Justice Department, 3.5
  • U.S. Geological Survey, 3.3.

In a second analysis, OhMyGov looked at the number of Twitter retweets per follower. That approach was intended to spotlight which agencies had the most engaged followers.

The most retweeted per follower was Radio and TV Marti, a Spanish-language division of the Broadcasting Board of Governors that transmits radio broadcasts to Cuba. Its Twitter feed has only about 2,700 followers, but on average one out of every 15 followers will retweet the station’s tweets. That was the most highly-engaged audience by that metric, OhMyGov said.

In second place was the U.S. Army, with a retweet for every 150 followers, and the U.S. Navy, with a retweet for every 408 followers.

Other engaged accounts, measured by the ratio of retweets to followers, included:

  • USDA, 1:431
  • USAID, 1:537
  • National Endowment for the Arts 1:618
  • Federal Emergency Management Agency, 1:624
  • US Geological Survey, 1:647
  • Defense Department, 1:649
  • Fish and Wildlife Service, 1:676.

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Reader comments

Thu, Mar 29, 2012 Dave Michigan

This might be a good way to measure follower engagement, but what about agency engagement (engagement is a two-way street)? How many times does the agency retweet or reply to an outside tweet? It's commendable that agencies are active in sharing information; but I think it's a bit of a misnomer to site "engagement" when only the followers' activities are being examined. A measure like this would be tolerant of a "scatter-gun" approach, which isn't supportive of engagement at all.

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