The newly established Federal Social Media Index is looking at 125 federal agencies to rank how well they use social media to interact with the public, and that's raising questions about how to evaluate federal communications. Joe Marks, staff writer with Government Executive magazine, talks with WAMU Morning Edition host Matt McCleskey about what the rankings mean.
Here are some highlights:
On what the rankings are trying to quantify: The Federal Social Media Index is really just getting its feet wet. Right now all they're measuring is questions that agencies are tweeting out and the responses they're getting. Ultimately Expert Labs hope to add a number of different indicators … for a more nuanced look at not just how much agencies are engaging with people on social media, but how well they're doing it.
Advantages to agencies using social media: "You get much more of a real-time response on programs that you're working on … when things come in real time, you can get a much more nuanced look at what the community is saying."
Whether the White House's 'We the People' initiative, which allows social media users to submit petitions, has been effective: "The response has been pretty good, and probably a couple hundred petitions have circulated through the site," says Marks. "They're certainly engaging the public in a new way, and not a huge up front cost to them."
On whether federal agencies will increase social media usage: "That seems to be the trend," Marks says. "Just in the last couple of years, since President Obama came in to office, there has been a number of so-called "Government 2.0" initiatives, and it's sort of tough to unroll these things once you start them. You've got a dedicated group of Twitter followers, and the minute you ramp down they start letting you know."