Lessons from the Federal Media and Marketing Study
Federal government employees are visiting social media sites more frequently than ever before. Across the board, social media use has increased, including upticks in the use of Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and Twitter. But the increases in all of these paled in comparison to the millennial darling Instagram-54% growth from 2017 to 2018! We’ll go into more on Instagram in a little bit…
Personal mobile devices have blurred the lines between one’s work and personal lives, especially on social media. Even if work devices have certain social media sites blocked, personal devices, a 24/7 companion for many, have made it so social media marketing can’t be ignored and can be a dynamic tool for marketers. According to the study, a majority of feds (62%) acknowledged having seen work-related advertising while they are visiting sites (including social media) for personal use, and of those, over half (57%) acknowledged having had clicked through at some point.
So, you may ask “How do I make sure my company’s social media content is engaging and clickable?” Social Media Today points to visualization: “Visuals are key to maximizing your social media presence, and the emergence of image-based formats like Stories has only exacerbated this.”
Now back to the noted rise in Instagram… the growth in popularity of Instagram and story functions across social media sites is driven by imagery, including infographics, and can increase your visibility and help drive click-through and readership. Don’t worry that your brand will be co-located with consumer brands and pictures of pets; the mash up of those things is what makes it more visible and appealing to today’s audience. The “work brain” and “home brain” operate together in today’s younger audience.
To help B2G marketers, Market Connections looks at resources and best practices to help our clients achieve goals for reaching their public-sector audiences.
With that in mind, we are sharing Social Media Today’s article on 2019 Social Media Optimization Guide. This guide provides the latest data on dimensions needed for all aspects of visual imagery on social media including popular sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram, and will help prevent marketers from making the most common mistakes such as using incorrect sizes or resolutions that can inadvertently make posts or sites appear unpolished and unprofessional.
Market Connections’ action-based research can also support your federal marketing needs by identifying the best platforms to reach your target audience with our Federal Media & Marketing dashboard or creating primary, research-based thought leadership and marketing content (including infographics, white papers, webinars and blogs) you can use to share across social media and other market channels.
Learn how social media and other marketing tactics should fit into your overall strategy for reaching federal audiences. Watch a recording of part one of our three-part webinar series, Marketing Tactics & the Federal Environment.
Finally, we invite you to join us for our upcoming webinar: Media Habits in a Time of Change: A Federal Media & Marketing Study Webinar on Wednesday, February 13 from 2-2:30 PM EST.
Federal marketers understand that when it comes to their budgets, every dollar is a precious resource, and having a strong strategy in place is essential. With that in mind, ten years ago, Market Connections and Sara Leiman launched the annual Federal Media and Marketing Study (FMMS) to help federal marketers hone in and perfect their campaigns using solid third-party research.
The first (and still only) of its kind, the survey garners responses from more than 3,000 decision makers inside and outside the beltway, to understand their media consumption habits for print, digital, broadcast and social platforms. After ten years, the federal media study continues to be a must-have marketing tool in the federal arena.
To commemorate the tenth anniversary, Market Connections reached out to co-founders Sara Leiman and Lisa Dezzutti to reminisce on the birth of the study and to learn about how the study has evolved over the past ten years.
Market Connections: Think back to 2008. In the absence of research in the federal market space, what were you and colleagues like yourself doing to try to reach the market?
SL: The prevailing thought years ago was to lead with frequency by providing continual visibility in the same media outlets that best matched a given demographic; whether that was print, websites or broadcast. While the media community had very separate sources of research for each type of media; including: audit statements for print, Arbitron for radio, Nielsen for TV, and a growing number of ad serving and ad measuring companies for digital; the media community had nothing that looked at media habits holistically in a single study where one could compare different channels within the federal decision-maker community.
This lack of information did not allow us to provide custom recommendations by audience. We had no data that would tell us which media outlets were preferred by different demographics, for example, those who purchased IT services versus finance. Without the ability to prioritize media by specific audience, we could not prioritize their preferred method of delivery either; whether it was print, digital, radio or other outlets.
Market Connections: When you first got started, can you tell us what were some of the toughest hurdles you had to overcome in creating a comprehensive study like this?
LD: The biggest hurdles in any research project are constructing an effective survey and ensuring sampling is sufficient and valid. This study was no different. We spent a lot of time crafting the survey questions and testing them before we ever rolled out the first survey. From a sampling perspective this study is more challenging than most because it requires such a large sample size for the data to be valid. Sampling continues to be a challenge in the public sector as more and more agencies have adopted a “no-survey” policy. Our federal insights panel that we have built over the years helps us fill in the gaps.
Market Connections: What are some of the biggest lessons learned over the years?
SL: Overall, we learned that the federal audience is NOT a one-size-fits all. By this, we learned how media habits differed. For example, we learned LOCATION made a big difference. Media habits are very different inside versus outside the beltway as well as among civilian- versus defense-type agencies. DEMOGRAPHICS also had an impact on media habits including job function and area of purchase.
However, most importantly, and especially today versus 10 years ago, we learned it’s not just about the media; it’s also about TECHNOLOGY. It is important to understand how technology is used for targeting (by market, by domain, by specific demographics), for delivery (geo-fencing versus desktop or mobile by general location) and understanding how to overcome firewalls that are evermore present within government.
Federal executives have more choices for information access than ever before and they are using them all. Just like the rest of us. This survey captures the pulse of this audience with regards to their media habits.
Market Connections: What is the most interesting change for you in the market over the past 10 years, from your perspective?
LD: The most interesting has been the evolution of social media in the federal market. We didn’t even call it social media 10 years ago, we called it “networking sites” on the survey and listed examples LinkedIn and MySpace. The total that used those tools was less than 5%. The use of social media has exploded over the last ten years and forever changed media consumption behavior –attention spans are shorter and federal decision makers consume information from many more sources than ever before. That presents both opportunities and challenges for federal marketers.
Market Connections: As you’ve done this study over the years, what are some of the biggest changes you’ve seen in terms of study questions, analysis, and presentation?
LD: The primary goal of the study really hasn’t changed. It has always been to understand the media consumption habits of federal government employees. And we’ve always kept a core set of questions in order to track changes and trends over time. But there have been some things about the survey itself however that have changed over those years.
Throughout the years we’ve seen changes in media and in the federal marketplace and we updated the survey to capture those changes. Whether it was the addition of new media outlets, product categories and job functions, or technologies (the growth of mobile) and platforms (the advent of social media), the survey evolved as the media landscape changed. We also keep the study fresh each year by including a few questions that are topical to the federal market environment.
And last, but certainly not least, we listen to our clients, adding questions that are of particular interest to them and fit within the objectives of the federal media study.
Market Connections: How have your clients benefited from the data over the years? Can you share a story of a client who has used study results and has seen success?
LD: We had a client who was running radio spots in the DC area to influence perceptions of their company on key issues, particularly members of Capitol Hill. They contracted us to do a series of surveys to measure perceptions before, during and after a radio campaign. The mid-campaign survey, showed no movement in market perceptions. Given the size of their investment in radio we were surprised by this. Upon review of their media plan, we realized their advertising agency (not located in DC) was recommending stations that did not well target federal decision makers. We suggested they use the FMMS data to recast their radio buys for the second half of the campaign. The final leg of the study showed significant improvement in perceptions. Using the data to target federal decision makers in the right media outlets made all the difference.
In addition, over the years we’ve seen companies that use our data in very different ways beyond media planning and buying. We’ve seen clients use the information in sales playbooks to help sales and BD teams have a better understanding of their accounts and account behavior. While others have used the data as an input when creating buyer personas (a detailed representation of your ideal customer that helps determine where to best focus time and investments). Clients also use the data to help target content placement and PR pitches.
Market Connections: Why would you recommend federal marketers purchase a subscription to the dashboard?
SL: As industry professionals, our job is to make sure that we are investing our client dollars in the most efficient way possible. The customized reports by demographic that are available in this survey database allow you to view and understand the most comprehensive and efficient media for any demographic within government.
LD: No one has an unlimited marketing budget. Federal marketers are under increasing pressure to demonstrate success. There is not a lot of wiggle room to make a mistake. It is easy to waste a lot of money very quickly in this market. The FMMS data helps ensure that companies are getting the best ROI they can on their marketing investment by effectively reaching their target audience.
Learn more about the study and subscribe to the dashboard.
Did you miss the Federal Media & Marketing Study breakfast event? Join us for the first of our webinar series highlighting key points and insights from the study, “Marketing Tactics and the Federal Environment: A Federal Media & Marketing Study Webinar.”
Government decision-makers, especially those in Defense agencies, are questioning the credibility of media outlets due to the onslaught of “fake news,” according to the early results from the 2017 Federal Media and Marketing StudyTM.
A peek at the early 2017 results shows that:
- Two-thirds of decisions makers said recent commentary about “fake news” has had at least some impact on their perceptions of news organizations’ credibility.
- Moderate to major impact was significantly stronger with respondents from defense agencies (53%) relative to civilian agency respondents (39%).
If decision makers are feeling somewhat skeptical about content coming from media outlets, what do they trust? At the top of the list: recommendations from peers and colleagues at 51 percent.
Respondents also put stock in the content professional associations provide: 42 percent trust white papers and case studies these associations publish, 41 percent trust content on their websites and 39 percent trust content in their webinars.
What does that mean for marketing to the federal government? Perhaps 2018 will be a good year to team with professional associations — whether submitting articles for their journals or creating a webinar.
2017 Federal Media & Marketing Study™ Annual Breakfast and Briefing
These early results are only one data set in the comprehensive study of more than 3,000 federal decision makers. The full results will dive deeper into when, where and how federal decision makers consume content. Registration is open now for the 9th annual FMMS breakfast and briefing event.
When: Thursday, November 2, 2017 | 8:30 AM – Noon
Where: VALO Park Conference Center (formerly known as TEGNA)
While you’re waiting for the results from the 9th Annual FMMS, download the 2016 overview report to learn more about the media habits of your target audience.
As we prepare for the annual Federal Media and Marketing Study, we wanted to share some highlights from last year, particularly around where decision-makers go to get their news. This is always of interest as marketing professionals decide where to allocate advertising budgets.
- The top print and online publications are:
- Print, Federal and Congressional publications read — Federal Times is the top at 46 percent
- Print, business and news publications read — USA Today is the top at 47 percent
- Online, top federally focused websites visited — GovExec.com is the top at 27 percent
- Online, other top websites visited — weather.com and cnn.com tie for the top at 49 percent
- Online, top social sites — Facebook and YouTube tie for the top at 62 percent
- News apps, 54 percent of respondents use them on mobile devices.
- Social media, 35 percent of respondents share news on social sites.
- Trusted content, 47 percent of respondents say they trust content recommended by peers and colleagues.
Learn more about the 2016 study and the online tool: MarketConnectionsInc.com/fmms2016study
SAVE THE DATE: 9TH ANNUAL FMMS BREAKFAST & BRIEFING
Join us Thursday, November 2 at this popular event for B2G marketers. The annual Federal Media & Marketing Study™ looks at media consumption habits of federal decision-makers: the top publications, websites, radio, TV, and more, along with demographics, job functions, and purchasing responsibilities.
Thursday, November 2, 2017 | 8:30 AM – Noon
VALO Park Conference Center (formerly known as TEGNA)
7950 Jones Branch Drive
We are also preparing to launch the 2017 survey and, as always, invite participation. Be on the lookout for details.