Melissa Burgess, Research Analyst, Market Connections, Inc
The federal government is quickly changing its views on employee use of social media. In our Social Media in the Public Sector 2011 study, published last year, we found that only 19 percent of agencies banned the use of social networks in 2011, a sharp decline from 55 percent in 2010.
Along these same lines, Hewlett Packard (HP) recently issued a study that found evidence indicating similar findings.The HP study also shows that the government is taking social media one step further by creating its own internal platforms to share information, set up video conferencing and streamline the process by which they do business across agencies and beyond.
While the use of government-specific social sites is on the rise, our study also showed that, between 2010 and 2011, federal users increased their uses of external social media platforms:
- YouTube use increased from 61% to 80%
- LinkedIn use increased from 32% to 70%
- Twitter use increased from 30% to 55%.
As HP pointed out in its survey, federal employees are also using government-specific social media platforms, such a GovLoop, GSA Interact, govWin and TFCN. Jive and Yammer are also helping these agencies share information via internal social networks that integrate video and cross-agency information sharing.
You may recall Lisa Dezzutti, CEO of Market Connections, telling AOL Gov last year, “You can’t look at these tools as individual channels. It’s no different than traditional media. It requires an integrated plan.” This plan requires agencies to interact from locations that are often far away from one another, making these social networks all the more important as a cost effective and timely approach to conducting business within the government.
Last month, we launched our fourth-annual Federal Media and Marketing Study (FMMS) that offered an interesting perspective on reaching federal decision makers: print media is not dead. While social media is certainly a viable way to market to government, those selling products and services to the federal market should not abandon their print media efforts.
In case you missed the media coverage, the FMMS provided some very unique insights:
- Print is not dead. Federal decision makers are slowly shifting away from reading trade publications in print, but the decrease from last year is small (40% in 2011 to 35% in 2012). 28% prefer a combination of both print and online media.
- Trade shows and conferences still present viable marketing and networking opportunities. More than half of federal decision makers are still attending trade shows. Webinar attendance also increased from 51% to66%.
- LinkedIn is beginning to take off as a key destination for federal decision makers. Up from 18% in 2011, 35% of respondents rely on LinkedIn for both professional and personal use.
- Conversely, Facebook for professional use is down to 3% from 6% in 2011. Though the personal use of Facebook is up significantly (68% from 49% last year).
- More than half (58%) use smart phones and almost a third (31%) use tablets. For work email, Blackberry is still king at 30%. Yet iPhones and Androids dominate personal email at 36%. iPhones and Androids are also most-used for accessing news websites (27%), followed by tablets (21%).
- New this year, more than one-third (37%) report reading blogs, while 13% actually write blogs.
We imagine that we will see social media continue to play a major role in internal and external communications and collaboration for government. However, we don’t want to lose sight of the fact that government leaders are still leaning on traditional media to stay informed on the latest issues.