Thursday, December 15, 2011

Federal Social Media Index

Ever wondered what federal agencies tweet about? No? Well, now the curious can find out. The Federal Social Media Index (FSMI) compiles Twitter activity from over 450 U.S. departments and agencies, ranking the federal Twitter accounts based on how well they engage with users.

The government's atwitter
The index is powered by ThinkUp, an application that tracks social media activity on platforms such as Twitter, Google+, and Facebook. The ThinkUp interface allows users to visualize activity on these social networks, from searching for past tweets to compiling graphs showing how many users follow accounts. 

The FSMI allows users to visualize sortable variables such as the number of followers the department has and the number of inquiries and answers the department receives and provides. For instance, although NASA (@NASA) has the most followers by far at 1,658,784--nearly tripling the next-highest, The Smithsonian Institute (@smithsonian)--the State Department (@StateDept) was named Agency of the Week for December 5-11 for having the most replies from followers (427 replies from 199,413 followers.)

The indexing is done automatically on a weekly basis, using the ThinkUp application without any tinkering from humans. The results are intended to provide an unbiased account of how the government interacts with the citizenry--or at least the portion that regularly uses Twitter--and to highlight overlooked but interesting comments from government departments. For more information, Internet entrepreneur/blogger Andy Baio has a write-up at ExpertLabs.

As an interesting sidenote, the FSMI excludes the White House, whose account has become one of the most popular on Twitter, with over 2.5 million followers, enough to earn it a spot as one of the 125 most followed accounts. Sadly, the Supreme Court (@SupremeCourtGov) is one of the least engaging accounts, having a scant 243 followers and no tweets since June 4, 2010. Perhaps the Justices have more important matters to attend to!

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