Social Media Metrics for Federal Agencies

Social media is transforming how government engages with citizens and how it delivers service. Agencies are using social media to share information and deliver service more quickly and effectively than ever before. Increasingly, these tools are also being used for predictive and sentiment analysis—using the vast amount of real-time data from these social platforms to predict emerging trends and respond to them quickly (referred to as “social data”).
Analysis of this social data is critical not just for agency communication offices—but also for program managers at every level of your organization. Social media in government increasingly requires accurate, targeted performance analysis to ensure we’re taking full advantage of these tools to deliver better service and engage with our customers.
Below are a set of recommended, baseline social media metrics, developed and maintained by an interagency working group of the Federal Social Media Community of Practice. The purpose is to establish a common, yet customizable approach to analyzing social data using the most cost-effective methods available. It provides a framework for agencies to measure the value and impact of social media in addressing agency mission and program goals. The aim is to move beyond obscure results of social media activities towards more sophisticated and more accurate assessments, leading to better informed decision-making.
Part 1: Social Media Metrics and Social Data: Why They Matter
Part 2: How to Use the Metrics
Part 3: Baseline Social Media Metrics, by Category
Part 4: Resources, Training, and How to Provide Feedback
NOTE: These recommendations are presented in a “living, open document” designed to progressively evolve based on continuous feedback, as new methods and tools become available. They are the beginning of a shared inter-agency approach to this emerging field, one that will allow agencies to collectively advance towards better strategic outcomes through social programs for citizens.

Part 1: Social Media Metrics and Social Data: Why They Matter

Social media is a powerful tool to help agencies meet program goals. The primary functions are to:
  • Share: Inform citizens of public services through social content
  • Listen: Observe, analyze and understand what citizens are sharing to improve public services
  • Engage: Respond, collaborate and create with citizens to improve public services (sharing and listening)
Each government agency has a unique mission and unique strategic needs for providing services to the public. As a result, each agency's social media strategy—and corresponding metrics—may include emphasis on different combinations of these three functions to provide the most benefit for citizens.
These benefits can include but aren't limited to:
  • More effective distribution of critical information to citizens and communities, whether for emergency response, education or awareness.
  • More responsive public programs that citizens help shape, and better customer experience by listening for feedback.
  • Better informed strategies that operate on the most up-to-date and accurate data, leading to greater efficiency.
  • Increased use of innovative tools and services from small businesses and entrepreneurs that drive further innovation.

Part 2: How to Use the Metrics

While agencies will continue to have unique requirements, working towards a common set of baseline social media metrics across all federal executive branch agencies has many benefits. These include using consistent terminology to describe our work, providing government-wide views of how agencies are using social media, and identifying government-wide trends that may be helpful to individual agencies as benchmarks.
The baseline social media metrics in Part 3 are designed to align generally with the larger Digital metrics guidance on, part of the White House's Digital Government Strategy. The broader digital metrics outline five major categories for analysis. These recommendations adopt those categories as universally shared between Web and social analysis, and provides two additional categories for agencies to directly link their metrics to goals: campaigns and strategic outcomes.
There are 10 basic metrics that agencies can analyze through all platforms; organized into seven main categories:
  • Breadth
    • Community Size
    • Community Growth
  • Depth
    • Conversions
    • Viewing
  • Direct Engagement
    • Engagement Volume
    • Engagement Responsiveness
  • Loyalty
    • Return Community
  • Customer Experience
    • Sentiment
    • Indicators
    • Survey Feedback
  • Campaigns
  • Strategic Outcomes
Agencies should use combinations of these metrics based on strategic needs, and share with the community what combinations best support their targeted outcomes. For example, Growth and Loyalty measures emphasize building a community, while Direct Engagement and Customer Experience metrics report the health of an established community.
Note that we've provided examples of metrics for the most widely used social media tools being used by federal agencies. Many of these example can be translated for use on other tools. Read more about free social media tools that are being used by federal agencies and have federal-compatible Terms of Service agreements.

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