According to a new study, “Social Media in the Public Sector 2011,”, federal employees are becoming more and more active on social media networks especially as federal agencies remove bans on them.
The study found that currently only 19 percent of agencies ban access to social media websites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. In 2010, contrarily, 55 percent of agencies banned use of these sites. The survey of 900 federal employees and contractors found that 74 percent access social media websites at work, 92 percent access the sites from home, and 70 percent access them from mobile devices.
LinkedIn and Twitter saw the largest increase of usage in the past year. LinkedIn usage by federal employees grew from 32 percent last year to 70 percent this year and Twitter usage grew from 30 percent in 2010 to 70 percent in 2011. Resembling the civilian public’s usage of the sites, 86 percent of those surveyed use Facebook. Also gaining sharp increases in usage was the government-specific GovLoop with 35 percent of workers and 55 percent of contractors using the service. 30 percent of both demographics also use the government specific GovTwit.
37 percent of those polled said they are allowed to access social media sites as representatives of their agencies; only 9 percent were allowed the same access last year.
When asked what social media was most helpful for, 100 percent agreed that it helped informed decision making; 81 percent said it helped them communicate externally with citizens and other agencies; 78 percent said it helped them communicate with colleagues; 64 percent of those surveyed used social media networks for research; and 61 percent used them for promotion.
In an era where politicians are taking to social media networks, specifically twitter, it is good to see that federal employees are embracing the technology at a similar rate. The New York Times this week reported that Republicans are increasing their Twitter usage leading up to the 2012 elections. Jon Huntsmen has perhaps seen the greatest support gains from using twitter, albeit mostly from liberals who want to point him out as a moderate candidate.
His slightly comical, slightly snarky and entertaining tweets have included such gems as “To be clear. I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy,” and my personal favorite, which his beautiful daughters wrote for him: “”How does Romney know anything about China? He’s only been there once and that was for the Olympics. Panda Express doesn’t count.”