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Which U.S. Government agency is most active on social media?

by Khoros staff | Nov 11, 2016

In this article, we highlight one massive social media user hiding in plain sight — but the truth is, federal governments around the world are proactively using this channel to reach and engage their citizens where they are.

The United States stood out amongst the countries we looked at due to the sheer volume of social media accounts. The United States Digital Service has a registry of all social media accounts from all federal agencies. This gave us our first impression of just how active the federal government is on social media: right now, they’re operating over 9,000 different accounts!

Where is the federal government active?

Federal accounts are most typically found on either Facebook or Twitter and while it may feel more mainstream, there are still fewer official Instagram handles than Flickr addresses. On Instagram, the National Park Service operates 45% of all the federal Instagram accounts registered. There were also seven Myspace pages registered and six different Yelp accounts.

The most social agency: The Department of Defense

While the DoD had the most accounts, this is because of the size and scale of the agency. Within the DoD, the Department of the Navy was by and large the most active child agency. The Department of State was the most varied, with handles representing nearly every US Embassy around the globe and the Voice of America network. The VOA is the official external broadcasting institution of the United States and has dedicated channels in most countries around the globe.

For all of these federal accounts, we also were able to gather several thousand of their Facebook posts and see what types of content they post. The one thing we wanted to know was how much did engagement pages differ from their peers.

Some of this was explained by agency size and reach, but when diving into the top 10% of reaction receivers we saw a slightly different story:

What makes a high engagement government page different?

For the top performing federal Facebook pages we saw them receiving 3,124% more total reactions than their peers and posting 71% more content on average. While these pages are both more engaging and more active, we wondered: what are some other differences?

Post breakdown

The most engaging pages were the most likely to be posting rich media compared to their counterparts. The starkest difference in page performance was the over-reliance on Link and Status posts by lower performing pages. However, there is a consistent need to bring citizens directly to government properties for information or access, and this won’t change. For high priority messages, some of these agencies might consider finding other ways to communicate the same ideas.

Reactions received

Not only do the top ten percent of engaging US Government Facebook accounts receive a higher share of all reaction types as a share of all reactions received, but they also have both higher and richer engagement. Unsurprisingly, the most “Loved” government page is the White House and the most “Angry” was the IRS.

What we are seeing is as true for the government as it is for brands. There’s still an effort being made to speak to citizens in the most engaging ways possible and for now the trend is moving towards richer media. While this can be tougher for those agencies with fewer resources, this is definitely a concern that many brand marketers can relate to. Learn how to best engage with your audience on social media maneuver around these issues with our Social Media Pocket Guide.

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