Social government makes inroads with citizens

Federal agencies perform “very well” when using social media to service citizens, a newly released study said.

The study, sponsored and conducted by J.D. Power & Associates, ranked the federal government’s social media outreach on two levels – servicing and marketing. Named the “2014 Social Media Benchmark Study,” the research is not available to the public, but will instead be distributed internally to agencies.

According to Greg Truex, the company’s director of government practice, the study was not released publicly because some of the agencies involved were not aware of the study. By doing so, Truex said agencies therefore wouldn’t be surprised by the results while the public is watching.

“Given that it’s an inaugural study, we’re kind of treating it like a benchmark,” Truex said. “We wanted to give the government the courtesy of not doing a public ranking in the first year.”


Truex said, however, that NASA performed very well on both categories. In marketing on social media, the Education Department also performed well. On the servicing side, Truex said the General Services Administration, the Department of Homeland Security, the Transportation Security Administration and the Defense Department performed well.

The press release also acknowledged strong results from the White House and the State Department in terms of contact with social media users.

In response to the survey’s results, NASA said in a press release it uses social media to share the agency’s story with the public.

“Increasingly, more and more people are getting their news from online sources, and we strive to share our story of exploration and discovery with the public through these digital channels, including social media,” said David Weaver, NASA’s associate administrator for communications. “As NASA embarks on missions to go farther in space than ever before, we will look for new ways to engage the public and share the experience.”

The study was conducted from November 2013 until February, a press release from J.D. Power & Associates said. The sample size was more than 2,600 U.S. citizens who had interacted with various federal government agencies on social media.


According to the release, just more than 80 percent of citizens surveyed were satisfied overall with the servicing-related social media interactions with the federal government. More than 70 percent were satisfied with the way the government engages in marketing on social media.

According to J.D. Power & Associates, the most frequently used social media marketing channel is Facebook, with 25 percent. YouTube came in second with 13 percent, followed by Twitter at 9 percent. In servicing, Facebook topped the bill again with 74 percent. Twitter took the second spot with 30 percent, and YouTube followed with 17 percent.

The study will occur again in 2015, according to Truex. This time, the results will be compiled into a ranking. That ranking, and the results of the study, will be public.

“We want to remain third party and unbiased,” Truex said. “We want to give [the government] an opportunity to do some improvements over the next year.”

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