GSA releases baseline social media metrics, registry API

The U.S. General Services Administration released two major social initiatives on Tuesday: a set of baseline social media metrics for federal agencies and a federal social media registry application programming interface.

The baseline social media metrics are aimed to establish a common, yet customizable approach to analyzing social data using cost-effective methods while providing a framework for agencies to measure the value and impact of social media, according to the agency.

“The aim is to move beyond obscure results of social media activities towards more sophisticated and more accurate assessments, leading to better informed decision-making,” the agency wrote introducing the metrics on its blog.

Measurement examples include:

  • Percentage growth of target communities  — not just how big your community is, but how much is it growing?
  • Conversions  – are people clicking the link in your tweet  and  consuming more content?
  • Loyalty  – are people coming back to your content after the first visit?
  • Sentiment analysis – are people saying generally positive, negative, or neutral things about your program?
  • Customer service  – do you have benchmarks for responding to your customers in a timely way?

The recommendations were developed by the Federal Social Media Community of Practice and are the result of federal officials seeking ways to tie social media efforts to outcome-driven metrics.

“In collaborating on the metrics across multiple agencies, the inter-agency group took into consideration the need to include metrics that can easily be derived from freely available analytics tools and the continued importance of protecting citizens’ privacy when collecting any performance data,” GSA wrote.

Justin Herman, lead for Social Media in the GSA Center for Excellence in Digital Government, said at the #SocialGov Summit at GSA on Tuesday that the social media metrics used by the public are intended more for advertisers and don’t fit the true needs of public servants. What he said these metrics will do is provide a guide for other federal agencies to better understand how its social media efforts are fairing compared to the rest of government and let them adjust accordingly.

“The recommendations show how to take any activity in social media and how to apply it to a strategic program,” Herman said.


The API for the Federal Social Media Registry will open up content from social media accounts across government and will be searchable by agency, topic or language.

“The potential of this verified API source is especially underscored by crisis situations like Superstorm Sandy, where accurate, real time information can accelerate and assist preparation and response efforts, and dispel rumors,” GSA said. “By making use of the API, media outlets can embed the widgets to pull real-time data across multiple government social media accounts like FEMA, EPA, and CDC.”

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