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U.S. Army Tops List of Most Engaging Agency Twitter Feeds

Twitter is a popular way for federal agencies to share updates on their organization and to converse with inquiring citizens. Yet a healthy Twitter presence is about more than just an impressive band of followers. Various other factors impact how effective a given Twitter feed may be, including replies, mentions, and outgoing tweets.

One of the most important metrics to help determine whether a Twitter account is serving its purpose is the elusive re-tweet. It takes a lot of work to cultivate a healthy and engaging online presence, and retweets can be an effective method for determining the impact of an organization’s messaging. Retweeting a post can show agreement with the message and a desire to share it with others. It is an important metric for gauging the effectiveness of an organization’s communications.

On the other hand, individuals and organizations may retweet a message to stir up controversy or elicit responses from their followers.

Data from OhMyGov’s media monitoring platform reveals which government agencies are benefiting from the healthiest, most engaging Twitter feeds. The number of retweets is among a number of metrics the platform measures.

In order to assess the most effective Twitter accounts in the Federal government, federal agencies with the most outgoing tweets and retweets were collected and analyzed. The results were then analyzed for two different ratios: the number of retweets per outgoing tweets and the ratio of retweets to followers. Both metrics help identify engagement levels among an audience.

The analysis yielded two Top 10 lists of federal agencies: those who earn the most retweets per tweet and those with the most engaged audience.

The most retweeted agency, as measured by the ratio of total retweets to total tweets, is the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). NIMH routinely obtains about seven retweets per tweet. This agency does not tweet nearly as much as other agencies and has only sent out 618 tweets to date. But the agency’s 203,000 followers share the content fairly often when they do tweet.

Second place for the most retweeted agency belongs to NASA. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration has a following of over 2 million, and the space outfit sent out well over 200 tweets in the past week. Each of those tweets was then retweeted an average of 6.5 times.

During the past week, NASA used Twitter to provide updates on the International Space Station crew. The station crew received the “all clear” to exit their Soyuz vehicles early Saturday after a piece of debris passed the complex without incident. NASA used Twitter to provide live updates of the event every step of the way. Followers also asked the organization questions, which were sometimes answered directly – including one about Commander Burbank’s Twitter handle.

Of course, it’s possible that an organization like NASA is being retweeted more often than other agencies due to the high number of followers of the account. While NIMH has a slightly better average Retweet per Tweet ratio, NASA’s content is shared with more people – over 2 million followers. To account for the biasing effect of more followers on the total retweet count, the ratio of retweets to followers was applied in this analysis. The ratio allows smaller organizations to be compared more accurately with larger, more popular agencies.

1. Radio and TV Marti (Español) 1:15
2. U.S. Army 1:190
3. U.S. Navy 1:408
4. U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) 1:431
5. U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) 1:537
6. National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) 1:618
7. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) 1:624
8. Geological Survey (USGS) 1:647
9. Department of Defense (DOD) 1:649
10. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) 1:676

The analysis places the Radio and TV Marti (Espanol), a division of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, as the agency with the most engaged audience – as measured by retweets only. The finding supports the results of a recent studywhich showed that Hispanics were the most active demographic on social media.

The Radio and TV Marti is a radio and television broadcaster that transmits Spanish radio broadcasts to Cuba. Based in Miami, FL., it has but 2,705 followers. Though it only averages one retweet per tweet sent, one out of every 15 followers on average will retweet the message, revealing a highly engaged audience.

Second and third place for the most retweets per followers belong to the U.S. Army and U.S. Navy, respectively. The Army can expect about one out of every 190 followers to retweet a message, and the Navy can expect one out of every 408 followers to pass a tweet on.

One U.S. Army tweet was recently retweeted to share pride in Medal of Honor recipients.

By this second metric, NASA falls a little ways down the list. At NASA, one out of every 1,312 followers take interest in the message enough to retweet it. NIMH is even further down the list, at about one out of every 3,440 followers retweeting the message.

Doing well on one ranking does not necessarily equal a unilaterally healthy Twitter presence. Radio and TV Marti does well by its followers, but its audience is tiny compared to others. However, the U.S. Army does well on both rankings, earning third place in the most retweets per tweet and second place in the retweets per follower. The U.S. Army has found a strong balance of outgoing tweets (110 from last week) for its over 130,000 followers who help spread the Army message regularly.

This consistency and overall engagement makes the U.S. Army this week’s strongest tweeter for all federal agencies.

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William J. Kelleher, Ph.D.

Hi Andrew! Thanks for the link. I checked, but they don’t have any info – Outgoing Tweets Federal Voting Assistance Program has no outgoing Tweets. Actually, they have a lot of tweets! Is there another way to see how FVAP is doing?

Andrew Einhorn

Apologies Will – I forgot you have to be logged into the site to see current data. Since we just added tracking, we don’t have historical data on you all yet (we will soon though). Attached is a screenshot of what I see when logged in on the home page. Looks like you guys are doing well by the rankings, though there’s another 8 on the rankings page. If you’d like, I can get you a test account. Just shoot me an email direct.

Andrew Einhorn

Nope. It can be used for any branch of gov, or any org for that matter including the contracting and lobbying communities. We just happen to have a strong focus on the fed government given our backgrounds.