What You Can Learn from HHS Facebook Pages (Part 3 of 3)

By Eric Diaz. Blog series originally posted at DK Web Consulting. Click here for Part 1 in the series on HHS Facebook page use. Click here for Part 2.

It’s not just the private sector jumping on the social media bandwagon. Government agencies are using the robust Facebook platform to reach the public too. This is the third installment of three in a series about the US Department of Health and Human Services’s (HHS) use of Facebook.[1]


The goal of this report series is to provide government agencies with a bench-marking tool so they may know how their own social media channels compare within their own branch of government as well as among all government social media properties. This tool may be used by government agencies with existing social media channels as well as those looking to launch for the first time.

Top Performers among HHS Agencies

The agencies with the most fans ‘talking about’ are not necessarily the agencies with the most fans. The CDC had twice as many fans as any other agency with over 192,000 at the time of our analysis. The CDC, even with their high fan count only managed 1.83% of its fans ‘talking about’ the page. By contrast, the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, with 5.01% of its fans ‘talking about’ it was the page with the highest engagement with over a 5,000 fan count.

Regarding engagement per post, the Stop Bullying pageaveraged 1.07% of its fans engaging with each post, highest among pages above 5,000 fans. The average engagement percentage per post is 0.25%. Of note is that the Stop Bullying page does not allow fans to post on the wall, without being a response to one of the page’s posts.

Stop Bullying Facebook

The Stop Bullying page had the most engagement per post of all HHS agencies with over 5K fans


Despite the favorable averages, a number of Facebook pages still show paltry performance. Despite consistent posting, four times per week if not daily, the Facebook page for Health Hazard Evaluation Program (HHEP) only had 265 fans, 9 of which are engaged, ‘talking about’ the page, according to Facebook data. The Elder Care Locatorfan page had 425 fans and publishes, on average, thrice-weekly posts. While only 20 fans are ‘talking about’ the page, fans are engaging with their posts as their engagement per post is more than twice the average.

Tumbleweeds are found on a few HHS agency pages, including those of Young Adult Coverage, National Center for Research Resources, and Health Services Officer Category (USPHS-HSO). One wonders if the departments were forced to cut back on their social outreach activity, or if these were set up with future use in mind.

Young Adult Coverage Facebook

The Young Adult Coverage page had not posted since April of 2011

Top Fan Counts among HHS Agencies

The top five most popular Facebook pages ranked at the time of our study include: CDC, Let’s Move, Stop Bullying, National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), and the National Institute of Mental Health. Interesting is that only the CDC and NCBI allow fans to post directly on the page’s wall. Fan counts for these pages were; 192,718; 88,255; 34,938; 25,592; and 23,306 respectively. Posting was infrequent for all of these pages except for the CDC, and none of these pages post on the weekend. Furthermore, despite such high fan counts, people ‘talking about’ for each page is slightly below average at 1.87%. Also of note is that fan growth was slightly down for these pages as well, at 9.3% versus 10.1% for all pages.

Lets Move Facebook

The Lets Move page had the second most fans among HHS agencies

Your Thoughts

Based on the findings one can infer that fans are interested in following official government health pages such as those belonging to HSS. However, becoming a fan does not guarantee participation. Do you follow a government agency on Facebook? Do you participate regularly? If not, what content do you think would motivate you to engage? We’d like to hear your thoughts on the Facebook presence of HHS agencies.

Want the Full Report?

Due to size restrictions, we only cover several of the highlights of the report on this 3 part blog series. If you would like the full complimentary report which includes all analysis in one PDF file please provide your name and email to info (at) dkwebconsulting.com and you will receive it by email.

[1] All analysis was performed between January and March of 2012.

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