GovLaunch: Announcing the Federal Social Media Index

Today Expert Labs released their Federal Social Media Index (FSMI). According to the FSMI website, “We rank which federal agencies are doing the best job of engaging on social media through Twitter (and soon, through Facebook and Google+).” Expert Labs says they are constantly looking for ways to improve their methodology and improve how FSMI works. I think it is a pretty cool idea, and shout-out to Department of State for taking the lead this week. The site is powered by ThinkUp and is updated weekly without intervention from humans, providing an unbiased snap-shot of which federal agencies are leading the charge with social media engagement.

From the Expert Lab blog:

While it’s obvious the federal government’s embraced social media on Twitter and Facebook, each organization uses them in different ways and it’s tricky to tell who’s doing it well. Some use it for press releases alone, while others are soliciting opinions from the public and replying constantly.

Our hope is that the FSMI helps bring the people behind these accounts together, helping them learn from each other’s efforts, as well as informing any future agencies getting ready to make the plunge.

The Expert Lab blog post also goes into some detail about how the site was developed and the history. It is an interesting back story to check out. The post states:

We started with this index of over 450 U.S. government departments and agencies. After removing duplicates and individual states, we paid the anonymous workforce at Amazon Mechanical Turk to track down the Twitter account for each agency.

To get more accurate results, we asked three people to find each account. We accepted their answers when two or more workers agreed, and hand-checked the rest. The result was this database, downloadable as a comma-separated text file or Excel document. (If we missed any, please let us know!)

After that, we used ThinkUp to archive every historical tweet from each account and every new message that mentions them. So far, we’ve indexed over 18,000 tweets posted by those 125 users, and nearly 900,000 mentions.

Unfortunately, the Twitter Search API doesn’t tell us which of those mentions are actually replies, or the post they’re replying to, so a separate process retrieves each mention individually to find the original tweet. In the last two weeks, we’ve collected nearly 4,000 verified replies and growing constantly.

As the dataset grows, we’re looking forward to adding weekly data to see how this activity trends over time.

Check out the complete post here. One of the challenges of social media is measuring results, understand value and being able to express a clear ROI. Sites like this work towards developing better metrics for agencies to use to improve how they use social media. I think this is a cool step in the right direction, and will be following the site to see who is doing the best job of engagement with social media.

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