Federal Social Media Effort ‘Can Be Muddled’

ForeSee’s audit of social media activity in the federal government, released last week, identified clear themes and best practices, showing that the public sector is learning to communicate with citizens in ways that are not usually associated with government services.

ForeSee conducted an expert usability review of the 15 executive department Websites in order to gauge how many participate in social media and how they do it. All are participating in the three most popular social platforms — Facebook, Twitter and YouTube — and many are using other new media and communications tools, from Flickr and podcasts to e-mail newsletters and RSS feeds.

“Social media is no longer a nice to have but a necessity in both the private sector and the public sector. It’s just the way people communicate now,” says Larry Freed, president and CEO of ForeSee. “The good news is that federal departments are participating in social media; the bad news is that efforts are happening at a variety of levels, and the effect can be muddled for citizens.”

Several clear themes and best practices emerging from the research are included in the report and can serve as useful guidance for other federal, state, and local governments. When government agencies adhere to the best practices that make their sites easier for citizens to use, citizen satisfaction increases, as does transparency and trust. Studies show that when satisfaction increases, citizens are more likely to use the website as opposed to other, costlier channels.
Overall, satisfaction with federal government Websites remains at 75 on the ACSI’s 100-point scale. Citizen satisfaction has remained at 75 or higher since late 2009 (with only one exception in the second quarter of 2010, when satisfaction fell briefly to 74.7).

A full list of individual Website scores along with more discussion of social media trends and best practices is included in the Q3 2011 ACSI E-Government Satisfaction Index, available as a free download at www.foresee.com.

ForeSee’s audit of social media activity in the federal government, released last week, identified clear themes and best practices, showing that the public sector is learning to communicate with citizens in ways that are not usually associated with government services.

ForeSee conducted an expert usability review of the 15 executive department Websites in order to gauge how many participate in social media and how they do it. All are participating in the three most popular social platforms — Facebook, Twitter and YouTube — and many are using other new media and communications tools, from Flickr and podcasts to e-mail newsletters and RSS feeds.

“Social media is no longer a nice to have but a necessity in both the private sector and the public sector. It’s just the way people communicate now,” says Larry Freed, president and CEO of ForeSee. “The good news is that federal departments are participating in social media; the bad news is that efforts are happening at a variety of levels, and the effect can be muddled for citizens.”

Several clear themes and best practices emerging from the research are included in the report and can serve as useful guidance for other federal, state, and local governments. When government agencies adhere to the best practices that make their sites easier for citizens to use, citizen satisfaction increases, as does transparency and trust. Studies show that when satisfaction increases, citizens are more likely to use the website as opposed to other, costlier channels.
Overall, satisfaction with federal government Websites remains at 75 on the ACSI’s 100-point scale. Citizen satisfaction has remained at 75 or higher since late 2009 (with only one exception in the second quarter of 2010, when satisfaction fell briefly to 74.7).

A full list of individual Website scores along with more discussion of social media trends and best practices is included in the Q3 2011 ACSI E-Government Satisfaction Index, available as a free download at www.foresee.com.

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