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Government And Social Media: Health and Human Services (HHS) Facebook Use Study
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Government And Social Media: Health and Human Services (HHS) Facebook Use Study

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The goal of this report series is to provide government agencies with a bench-marking tool so they may know how their own social media channels compare within their own branch of government as well as …

The goal of this report series is to provide government agencies with a bench-marking tool so they may know how their own social media channels compare within their own branch of government as well as among all government social media properties.

This tool may be used by government agencies with existing social media channels as well as those looking to launch for the first time.

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  • 1. IntroductionIt’s not just the private sector jumping on the social media bandwagon. Governmentagencies are using the robust Facebook platform to reach the public too.This is the first installment of three in a series about the US Department of Health andHuman Services’ (HHS) use of Facebook.1 There will be four other series that focus onGovernment Facebook use including the Military, Hispanic oriented, Other Governmentpages, and a final Comparison Report which compares the use of Facebook among allthese segments of the government. Together these five reports comprise the entire2012 US Government Facebook Use Report.GoalThe goal of this series of reports is to provide government agencies with a bench-marking tool so they may know how their own social media channels compare withintheir own branch of government as well as among all government social mediaproperties. This tool may be used by government agencies with existing social mediachannels as well as those looking to launch for the first time.1 All analysis was performed between January and March of 2012.
  • 2. Introduction To HHS Facebook Pages: By The NumbersWe learned that the 66 HHS Facebook pages average just fewer than 10,000 fans(9,687) per page. According to Facebook’s new ‘talking about’ data, 1.9% of fans are‘talking about’ these respective pages. Content creation varies as 16 of the 66 pages(24%) did not have a single post during a 7 day period within our evaluation timeframe. Of the other 50 pages that did post during that 7 day period, the quantityranged between 1 and 15 posts per week, with 0.7 posts per day being the average.The percentage of posts-per-day drops significantly on the weekends, as only 6% ofHHS pages published content on either Saturday or Sunday. Despite all of theengagement and activity, 26 of the 66 (39%) HHS agencies don’t allow fans to post ontheir Facebook walls. With this intro let’s dig a bit deeper and see how HHS pagescompare with other government Facebook pages, and among their own.The NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health) Facebook page
  • 3. Who’s ‘Talking About’ HHS Agencies?As of several updates ago, Facebook began publishing the number of fans ‘talkingabout’ the respective page. The number of people ‘talking about’ any given Facebookpage is based on the number of fans creating stories, which include: sharing, liking, orcommenting on a post; answering a question; or responding to an event. Based on the66 HHS organizations’ analyzed, approximately 1.9% of fans ‘talk about’ the HHS pagesthey are a fan of. This number compares to 3.2% of fans on average that talk about all126 government pages researched. 1.9% of fans means that the average HHS pagehad 184 people who have recently engaged with a post or shared a story aboutthat Facebook page.Engagement on individual posts, however, reflects a much lower number than the 184average. Approximately 0.25% of fans are engaged on posts as determined by thestudy’s criteria: fans who liked, shared or commented on a post within the period ofdata analyzed.2 That is to say, the average HHS page post receives 24 engagements(likes, comments, or shares). The difference between engagements per post, which ismanually counted, and ‘talking about’ which is Facebook data, can be partly explainedby the amount of fans creating stories about the page but not necessarily engagingwith the most recent page posts. We also note that Facebook users who have recentlyliked a page are included in the ‘talking about’ data. Interestingly, HHS pages rankfavorably compared to other government pages when measured by engagement perpost, with twice the engagement of its peers (Military, Spanish, and OtherGovernment). However when viewed by ‘talking about’, HHS is about 50% lower thanMilitary pages which averaged nearly 4% ‘talking about’.2 For this study the most recent three posts were analyzed that had been on the page for over 24 hours.
  • 4. The Administration on Aging ranks highest of all HHS agencies in percentage of fans ‘talking about’their page
  • 5. Open Door PolicyAll Facebook pages have the option to only allow people to post in response to pageposts, and not to post their own questions, photos, videos and more directly on thewall. HHS agencies are surprisingly lenient with regards to who and what they allow tobe posted on their walls. Because Facebook does not screen posts or provide any sortof content barrier save for protection against spam, limiting a fan’s permission may bethe only way to successfully screen content. As it stands, of the 66 HHS agencies, 63%(42 pages), allow fans to post directly on their walls. This ranks slightly higher abovethe overall average of 59% of total government pages that allow fans to post ontheir walls.The Know Stroke page allows fans to post directly to their wall
  • 6. Facebook Tabs — Which Are The Most Popular Among HHS Agencies?Tabs were counted as any tabs in addition to the default Photos tab. The mostcommonly used Facebook tab among HHS agencies is a Video tab that allows agenciesto publish informative video content for their users. One could infer that the prevalenceof a Privacy Policy tab containing moderation rules was due to the large number ofagencies that allowed fans to post directly on their walls. ‘Welcome pages’ were usedby a number of HHS agencies including several of the CDC and National CancerInstitute Facebook pages. Other popular customized tabs used were a Contact tab or aQuestions tab that allowed users to write in with questions or concerns directly on theFacebook page.These customized messaging tabs will likely be discontinued as most pages are nowusing Facebook’s new message functionality allowing fans to message page adminsfrom the wall. Other tabs may also be in jeopardy as Facebook has recently disallowedthe practice of allowing fans to be defaulted to a custom tab rather than the Wall.Finally we note that integrating additional social networks, such as Flickr and Twitter,was a popular use of tabs across all organizations as well.The CDC’s Welcome tab, which was originally a default landing page
  • 7. Tab Usage By HHS AgenciesThe average number of custom tabs used among all 66 pages was 3.4, ranging fromzero to as many as 11 found on the Office of Women’s Health page. Tab usage did notcorrelate to high fan count; the pages with the most fans did not necessarily have themost tabs. In fact out of the 6 pages with over 20,000 fans, only the CDC and StopBullying3 had more than 3 custom tabs. These two organizations built custom tabs toact as supplemental sources of information. The CDC page had 8 tabs including aWelcome page, a Comment Policy, and pages for specific programs including Vital Signsand Sexual Health. The Public Health Emergency page uses 7 tabs to promoteinformation about fellow partners and other facets of the organization itself. Drug FactsWeek, which also had 6 custom tabs, used the tabs to cross-promote othersocial platforms.The Office on Women’s Health page uses 11 tabs, leading usage among HHS agencies3 The Stop Bullying page has since removed most of their tabs with the exception of a Comment Policy
  • 8. What Are HHS Agencies ‘Talking About’?Content published on the HHS Facebook pages is pretty uniform throughout. Mostcommonly published posts include links to articles, blog posts, news information and jobpostings. It appears a number of government agencies used their Facebook pages toprovide a curated news source relevant to their agency’s mission. Besides keeping theirfans informed, many HHS agencies such as We Can and Stop Bullying sought publicfeedback from fans to respond and post responses on their posts.The ‘We Can’ page often asks their fan base for their opinions on health topics
  • 9. How Often Do HHS Agencies Post?The CDC, Food Safety.Gov, and NCI Media are the three pages that posted the mostper day, all averaging over 2.8 posts per day. Posting frequency varied from zero to asmuch as 15 posts per day, though the latter didn’t make for significant change inengagement. NCCAM (The National Center for Complementary and AlternativeMedicine), which posted four times in the span of a week had 3.31% of fans ‘talkingabout’ compared to the NCI Media page that had 3.39% ‘talking about’ yet averaged 14published posts per week. Overall, HHS agencies posted an average of 3.6 posts perweek, or 0.7 times per day. The average for all government pages was 1.4 posts perday indicating that HHS agencies post significantly less frequently on average. HHSagencies also sporadically posed questions to fans but less frequently than publishingarticles and blog posts.The FoodSafety.gov page posts three times per day, shown are three posts from March 30, 2012
  • 10. Do HHS Agencies Post On The Weekend?Interestingly, the majority of HHS agencies did not post on the weekend. In fact, only6% of the 66 agencies posted on the weekend during our time of analysis. This is farreduced from all government agencies as a whole which typically posted on theweekend nearly 25% of the time. The most active government segment to post on theweekend is the military of which 93% post on Saturday or Sunday.The Heart Truth posts on weekends regularly, and they are rewarded for it by many Likes and comments
  • 11. Top Performers Among HHS AgenciesThe agencies with the most fans ‘talking about’ are not necessarily the agencies withthe most fans. The CDC had twice as many fans as any other agency with over 192,000at the time of our analysis. The CDC, even with their high fan count only managed1.83% of its fans ‘talking about’ the page. By contrast, the National Heart Lung andBlood Institute, with 5.01% of its fans ‘talking about’ it was the page with the highestengagement with over a 5,000 fan count.Regarding engagement per post, The Stop Bullying page averaged 1.07% of its fansengaging with each post, highest among pages above 5,000 fans. The averageengagement percentage per post is 0.25%. Of note is that the Stop Bullying page doesnot allow fans to post on the wall, without being a response to one of the page’s posts.The Stop Bullying page had the most engagement per post of all HHS agencies that have over 5K fans
  • 12. Growth Of HHS PagesSeveral pages had very impressive growth over a short time span. We measured howmuch growth all pages had over an 8 week period. The most growth was seen fromthe National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, which grew by 47% to over 6,200 fansduring the time measured. CDC Espanol was the next highest, growing by over 30% to13,000 fans over the 8 weeks. On the other end, the majority of pages grew by lessthan 10%, lowest of which was Young Adult Coverage which grew by only 2% (50fans) during the period.The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute grew its fan count by 47% in an 8 week period
  • 13. Dis-Connect?Despite the favorable averages, a number of Facebook pages still show paltryperformance. Consistent posting notwithstanding, four times per week if not daily, theFacebook page for Health Hazard Evaluation Program (HHEP) only had 265 fans, nineof which are engaged, ‘talking about’ the page, according to Facebook data. The ElderCare Locator fan page had 425 fans and publishes, on average, thrice-weekly posts.While only 20 fans are ‘talking about’ the page, fans are engaging with their posts astheir engagement per post is more than twice the average.Tumbleweeds are found on a few HHS agency pages, including those of Young AdultCoverage, National Center for Research Resources, and Health Services OfficerCategory (USPHS-HSO). One wonders if the departments were forced to cut back ontheir social outreach activity, or if these were set up with future use in mind.The Young Adult Coverage page had not posted since April of 2011
  • 14. Top Fan Counts Among HHS AgenciesThe top five most popular Facebook pages ranked at the time of our study include:CDC, Let’s Move, Stop Bullying, National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI),and the National Institute of Mental Health. Interesting is that only the CDC and NCBIallow fans to post directly on the page’s wall. Fan counts for these pages were;192,718; 88,255; 34,938; 25,592; and 23,306 respectively. Posting was infrequent forall of these pages except for the CDC, and none of these pages post on the weekend.Furthermore, despite such high fan counts, people ‘talking about’ for each page isslightly below average at 1.87%. Also of note is that fan growth was slightly down forthese pages as well, at 9.3% versus 10.1% for all pages.The Let’s Move page had the second most fans among HHS agencies
  • 15. Application UsageOnly 13% of the 66 organizations used applications such as Hootsuite or TweetDeck topublish content. These include: NIDA Drug Facts Week, Chronic Obstructive PulmonaryDisease (COPD), and National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Of the 8 agencies thatuse apps, five of them use Hootsuite, two of them use Social RSS, and one usesSelective Tweets. The other 58 HHS pages publish and respond to tweets manually andin real time. The majority of the pages that used an app had above average fans‘talking about’ the page, and all but one posted more often than the average. FoodSafety’s three posts per day indicate steady maintenance to the page while the 3.67%of fans ‘talking about’ the page indicate a venerable level of rapport. Weekend postingsdon’t appear to be the reason why HHS pages turn to these apps since only one page(Drug Facts Week) was found to post on the weekend using an app. The platforms,however, provide an efficient way to monitor statistics and fan interaction which may bewhy these agencies have opted to use them.The NIDA Drug Facts page uses an application to post some of its content
  • 16. Final ThoughtThere are a number of factors at play in a successful social media campaign. We hopethat by reading this Government Facebook Use Study you will be able to betterunderstand, analyze and rate your agencys position and strategy among your peers. Aswe see, the public is hungry for information but keeping them engaged is key.For additional copies of this report, please send an email to: info@dkwebconsulting.com
  • 17. About DK Web Consulting/ Social Media Spanish ● Why DK - We at DK focus on long-term relationships that blossom with time as we become more acquainted with the client. Our capabilities in social media, web development, and digital Hispanic marketing enable our client to reach their goals. Further, we guarantee a dedicated project manager to all accounts ensuring the customer satisfaction the client needs in the short and long term. ● Why SMS - Social Media Spanish (SMS) is a service that enables our clients to fully engage with their Hispanic target market. SMS allows firms to increase awareness of their brand, increase visits to their stores or websites, and ultimately increase profitability. Our SMS team of native born, fully bilingual Latinas and Latinos works daily out of our Columbus and Phoenix office to exceed your expectations while proactively communicating with your fans & potential customers in their preferred language, be it English or Spanish. ● Commitment - Our commitment to our clients is to always be candid and honest. If we cannot provide a service to the best of our abilities we will refer them to someone who can. To our partners and vendors, we live by the golden rule; we treat them with respect and honesty and highly value our long-term commitment. Our commitment to ourselves is to always be responsible. Finally, we commit to maintain ourselves at the forefront of technology through ongoing research and collaboration with our valuable clients, partners, and vendors. DK Web Consulting Social Media Spanish P: 480-382-6508 P: 614-719-9245 E: info@dkwebconsulting.com E:info@socialmediaspanish.com W: www.dkwebconsulting.com W:www.socialmediaspanish.com