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Going from Better to Best in Gov 2.0: Map, Measure, Move Forward

Originally posted on The Better Buy blog.

A couple of the key questions that agencies continue to ask about social media is “How do I make a business case for it?” and “How do I measure success?” Ultimately, those agencies that have answered these questions effectively – in advance of starting their project and all along the implementation path – will become best practice examples. The Better Buy Project and its incubation group on GovLoop (Acquisition 2.0) are quickly becoming one of those best practice examples.

Two weeks ago, Adam Schultz (BoldInteractive) and I attempted to respond to these questions through a presentation for the Advanced Learning Institute’s Social Media for Government Conference. We developed a methodology that strives to move agencies from mission to measurement in a few steps. We know it’s not that simple, but here’s the general outline of the method:

1. Define Mission Achievement
2. Map Achievement Path
3. Locate Stakeholders
4. Design Engagement
5. Measure Outcomes
6. Inform Next Steps

We fleshed out these concepts for workshop participants over the course of three hours. You can view the full presentation below:

While an afternoon wasn’t nearly enough time for participants to apply it to their day-to-day endeavors, we were able to apply it to the Acquisition 2.0 Group on GovLoop and its evolution to include the Better Buy Project. See slides 22-29 and 32-34 for a self-explanatory application to the first four steps for the Acquisition 2.0 group and the Better Buy Project, respectively. We thought you might appreciate some commentary on several of the slides:

Slide 30: This slide offers a Google Analytics look at the traffic for the Acquisition 2.0 group on GovLoop between its launch on March 23 and December 5. Where are the spikes? Well, the first one was right around July 1. What happened? That was our first event, a panel at GSA. There’s another big jump right around mid-July. What was happening? The Open Government and Innovations conference. I could almost guarantee that the spikes in September and October were also due to events or news articles. In fact, we’re seeing another flurry of activity in the Acquisition after last week’s panel at NAPA.

TAKE-AWAY: When we come together physically, we accelerate our conversations virtually…and we need places like GovLoop and Better Buy to sustain and build upon those in-person conversations.

Slide 31: This slide reveals the traffic sources. Twitter was the largest driver to the group, followed by Google, Federal Computer Week (FCW), LinkedIn and Facebook. Also note that Yahoo! email link.

TAKE-AWAY: Social media, while a major component, is not the only driver of traffic. What works best is a comprehensive, integrated campaign that incorporates more traditional message vehicles, including good ol’-fashioned email.

Slides 35-36: Better Buy had a soft launch in late September as a small group of people seeded the submissions and built out the site. Slides reveals steady traffic over the first few weeks. Then there’s a huge spike on November 10. From slide 36, we learn that this leap was caused by a November 9 article in GovExec.

TAKE-AWAY: Is your story compelling? Can you pitch your product or service in a way that begs to be told by traditional media sources? Better Buy has the potential to save millions of dollars and thousands of hours. Plus, the concept is simple and the name is sticky. Don’t be gimmicky, but give your project some pizazz that makes it more likely to be picked up by the press.

Slide 37: What are the top referral sources for Better Buy? Looks like FCW, Twitter, GovExec and the National Academy for Public Administration (NAPA) send the most visitors. What’s surprising is that GSA (the ultimate beneficiary) and GovLoop (the original springboard) are lower on the list. Why? First, from what I could find, GSA does not have a link to Better Buy anywhere on the site. Believe it or not, the GovLoop group doesn’t have an obvious link or call to action either. There are some references in the comments, but nothing prominent.

TAKE-AWAY: Take care of home. I’m not sure what it takes to get a logo and link on the GSA page, but my hunch is that there are some unresolved issues that need to be addressed…that may be bogged down due to review and approval processes. As for GovLoop, well that’s a simple fix that I hope we remedy right quick! For other agency projects, where are the obvious places that you should be promoting your project to reach the target audience? Start your campaign there, if possible.

Slide 38: The good news is that Better Buy is taking on a life of its own. Due to the positive press and prolific tweets, people are using the project’s name to find it. As a result, there is an upward trend in the traffic as it becomes an increasingly recognizable brand.

TAKE-AWAY: It’s important to think through the keywords that people might use to find your project. Use tagging to own those words and improve your ranking in search engines.

Slide 39: One last thing – notice the inordinate amount of traffic to the “Market Research” tab. It captures the #1, #3 and #5 slots, accounting for over 5,000 views. The next highest is the “Pre-Solicitation” tab at 1,243 views and in third place we find the “Solicitation” tab at only 854 views. What’s happening here? When a visitor lands on the homepage, they are also landing on the pre-solicitation tab. They spend a lot of time there, submitting ideas, voting and commenting, then spend a little less energy on Pre-Solicitation and pretty much lose steam by Solicitation. Is this not indicative of the overall procurement process as well? 🙂 Slides 40-42 explore the click-through path a bit more, but I won’t tease out those details.

TAKE-AWAY: Site design plays an important role in what content gets the most attention. There is a clear navigation path on the Better Buy site, but is it the path that leads to the most balanced response? It all depends on the desired outcomes of the site. My hunch is that our generous hosts want equal time devoted to all facets of the procurement process. A couple solutions may include rotating the landing page or or altering the homepage that to ensure that the visitor feels the freedom to click on any of the three, eliminating a sense of preference or particular order.

In addition to the take-aways I’ve shared throughout this post, we offer several recommendations for improvement on slide 43. After seeing this brief bit of analysis, what are your recommendations and ideas for improvement? What else can we do to increase traffic, integrate with GovLoop or increase the number of people that contribute to the Acquisition 2.0 Group and Better Buy Project. Eager to continue the crowd-sourcing and collaboration with you!

See also Jaime Gracia’s post on “Moving the Better Buy Project Forward.” Posted same day, but independently. A great companion piece and shows that the community is on the same wavelength.

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Joshua joseph

Andy, your commentary is very helpful and offers lots of insight, particularly into the usage metrics. Great points, for example, showing how on-line and in-person interactions complement each other to raise awareness of the project. Also nice that you can show the data to back this up. One question about the slideshare…I couldn’t get the audio to work. Is there supposed to be audio with the presentation you posted or is it just the slides? -jj


Fascinating…Just confirms what I’ve been thinking of importance of both online and offline, new and traditional media. It’s not one or the other. It’s everything 🙂