Survey: Federal Agencies, Employees Embracing Social Media for Reasons Similar to Contractors

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More federal agencies are embracing social media in 2011, a sharp contrast from the apprehension they showed in 2010, according to a recent survey of 352 federal government employees by research firm Market Connections

Professional Service Council summary of the survey in Service Contractor magazine said 19 percent of agencies surveyed continue to restrict access to some or all social media sites, down from 55 percent in 2010.

The survey indicates agencies are catching up to contractors in their use of social media. Seventy percent of federal employees surveyed used  LinkedIn in 2011, while only 32 percent reported using the service in 2010. Federal employee Twitter use grew to 55 percent from 30 percent in 2010.

In comparison, 93 percent of contractors surveyed said they used LinkedIn in 2011, while 70 percent used Twitter.

The PSC summary said the survey found federal employees “are using social media to inform decision making, educate the public, access information and increase collaboration.”

Similarly, the survey found contractors “view the important benefits of social media as tools for marketing, the promotion of thought leadership and increased collaboration.”

Increased used of mobile devices is largely driving the growth of social media, according to Market Connections President and CEO Lisa Dezzutti, who said more users may seek information in mobile-friendly forms, such as video.

“There are implications for us as marketers in terms of how we’re delivering content,” Dezzuti said, according to Service Contractor. “A 500-word blog post isn’t necessarily something people are going to want to read on their phones.”

Thirty-five percent of federal employees surveyed said they turn to blogs to inform decision making. Video was not listed as a top five medium.  

“Social media has become integrated into the fabric of our lives, both personally and professionally,” Dezzutti said. “Personal versus professional use is not the question. People are using it. You have to be where they are.”

One federal service provider trying to merge the gap is Salesforce.com, which recently announced it will acquire Rypple in order to create social enterprises for agencies. See our coverage of that deal, here.

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