Which federal agency packs the most online punch?

There's clout, and then there's Klout, and a new study ranked 34 federal agencies for their online Klout scores.

Which federal agencies packs the most online punch? You might think that's hard to quantify, but Klout.com -- a service that scores Twitter feeds and other social media accounts for influence -- has some answers for feds.

NASA recently outscored all other federal agencies in online social clout, earning 80 out of 100 on the Klout  index of online influence, according to a new report.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency ranked in second place, with a Klout score of 75, followed by a tie for third place by the U.S. Marine Corps, 72, and US Agency for International Development, also 72.

The May 14 report from the IBM Center for the Business of Government was authored by Ines Mergel, assistant professor of public administration at Syracuse University.

Titled “Working the Network: A Manager’s Guide for Using Twitter in Government,” it aims to help federal agencies develop a strategy and policies for effectively using the Twitter social media platform.

As part of the report, Mergel compiled online social influence scores from the free service for 34 federal agencies as of January 2012.

Klout uses a proprietary algorithm to gauge influence—a combination of popularity, reach and engagement—primarily for accounts on Twitter but also for accounts on Facebook, LinkedIn and other networks. It was not immediately clear from the research whether all agencies were being scored just on Twitter usage. The Klout scores change daily to reflect the day’s activities.

Klout also labels the Twitter users into categories by the type of influence they display.

NASA, for example, is considered a Taste Maker, described as a user who stays ahead of the trends and helps set them.

FEMA and the Marine Corps, on the other hand, are considered broadcasters. Klout says the broadcasters distribute content that “spreads like wildfire” and is valued by the recipients.

USAID is labeled a “pundit,” for which the Klout.com website says, “You don’t just share news, you create the news.”

The State Department, with a score of 71, is called a “thought leader,” defined as a user who shares news and opinions and is relied upon to help understand issues.

Other high-scoring agencies on Klout include the US Army, 67; Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, 66; Federal Communications Commission, 66; Homeland Security, 64; Education, 64; Health and Human Services, 62; Justice, 62; Veterans Affairs, 62; and Defense, 61.

“While the scoring mechanism is not transparent, Klout scores are currently providing the best insights available and can help in understanding how well an agency performs on Twitter,” Mergel wrote in the report. “A comparison with the communication strategy and overall mission of the agency can then pro­vide additional insights.”

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