A Few Social Media Stats About EPA’s Efforts

Today, the following request came from a colleague at another federal agency via the Web Content Managers Forum, the gov’t-only group of 2500+ folks:

I need ammunition/stats from other federal agencies regarding the value of social media, specifically in terms of an agency’s obligation to be transparent and to reach and serve ppl where they are.

After writing up my response, I thought I’d share it more publicly, so here are four sets of data/discussion about EPA’s use of social media and one of general stats.

1) Weekly stats
Here’s our latest weekly graph of follower/fan counts and home page views.

Note how daily home page views are lower than both the follower and fan counts for our main EPA Twitter and Facebook accounts. That’s not quite an apples-to-apples comparison: the home page could be viewed more than once by a single person, so it doesn’t equal “people,” and not all followers or fans will see everything you post because more might flow onto their feeds and push our stuff off.

But as a rough demonstration of reach, I think it’s a good comparison.

One thing not graphed because we only get monthly stats, but in April our blog had 142,000 page views, or an average of 4,700/day.

2) Evidence that people want to interact where they find us
On our Facebook page, we’re responding to many questions about our monitoring of Japanese radiation coming to the US. Repeatedly, people don’t click links back to our site. It’s obvious because they ask questions that are answered on the page we linked to. In other words, they see our post, absorb what we include ON FACEBOOK, and then ask questions in the comments that we didn’t address. Our stats tell a similar tale: in April, our FB posts were viewed 1.8 million times (and most of our posts related to radiation), but people followed links to our radiation site only 4600 times.

My conclusion: people want to interact with us where we’re meeting them, not go back to our site.

A second conclusion is that they don’t even want to read back to older posts. Sometimes they ask questions about information that appeared right before the post where they commented.

BTW, you might be interested in my recent GovLoop blog post about the challenges of deciding when to respond.

3) The more we interact, the more people interact w/us
From 3/1-4/29, we posted 173 times to Facebook. On 78 of those posts, we got questions that we then responded to as further comments, and on 95, we didn’t. On those 78 posts where we followed up, people left a total of 1024 comments, or 13 comments per post. On the 95 where we didn’t, people left 422 comments, or 4 per post.

4) Your social media reach goes far beyond your own accounts

We recently tweeted this:

“Make a commitment to help the environment. Try Pick 5 and see what you can do! http://www.epa.gov/pick5/

Our own account had 35,000 followers. But it was retweeted 34 times, so the total followership who could have seen it was 44,000, or an increase of more than 25%.

The (free!) tweetreach report also shows you who retweeted and how many followers they each have. Here’s the key graph:

5) Broad overview of social media
My two favorite few stats cover the general extent of social media:
2 BILLION daily views on YouTube
500 million Facebook users

As I like to say, if you were building a physical kiosk with great gov’t info, would you build it in your lobby or in the middle of the busiest shopping mall in the world?

What do YOU use to argue the benefits of social media?

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You might want to check page #9 of the NYC Digital report – has a pretty similar tracking of monthly visitors across properties – basically the same but counts web different and adds emails, YouTube, LinkedIn, and apps

Curious – is that EPA total fans/followers across all accounts at EPA or just the main one?

Kind of intrigued – any reason tracking only home page visits? I’d personally compare it against total visits to the website. I think that’s what NYC does

Jeffrey Levy

Steve: just our main FB and Twitter account, but those dwarf other EPA accounts.

I compared to the home page for three reasons:

1) our home page is by far our most popular page, often doubling or tripling the next most popular.

2) I wanted to compare “first look” stuff. I know many people jump deeper into our site from a search engine, but this is the best proxy I have.

3) Our leadership knows the home page, but they don’t know many other pages on our site. And if I showed the 500,000 views/day across the whole site, I’d lose the chance to make the point that social media competes well for attention with the home page.

Of course, you know me: I’d never pretend my report is the best. It’s just what I put together.

Got a link to that NYC report?

Alicia Mazzara

This is a great, Jeff. I think data is so powerful in making the case for why engaging with social media is important. Thanks for highlighting these tools!