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12 FIGURE 6 Percentage within each group saying it is "very important" for government agencies to do the above by ethnic group (12). with white cell phone owners. Although cell phone use is agencies more accessible. There was an especially large gap not by itself an indicator of social media use, both African in attitudes toward government use of social media. Only Americans and Hispanics are more likely than whites to 17% of white Americans said it was "very important" for use cell phones to access the Internet, send and receive text government agencies to post information and alerts on social messages, and access a social networking website (10). Less networks, compared to 31% of blacks and 33% of Hispanics information is available about other demographic groups. (see Figure 6). For example, the Pew Center does not include Asians and Pacific Islanders in its standard demographic breakdowns Education and Income because of their smaller representation in the U.S. popula- tion and, in some cases, the language barriers associated with The same Pew study also showed that individuals with more interviewing these individuals (11). education and higher household incomes were more likely to use online government services. Although the study did While this information suggests that most U.S. adults not highlight social media specifically, it did ask respondents have access to the Internet, it also highlights a new potential whether they used tools such as blogs, e-mails, or text messages issue for public agencies. While smart phones have made to obtain government information. Some 24% of respondents the Internet more accessible, and some even offer integration with an annual household income under $50,000 used these with social media applications, they pose their own usability tools, compared with 39% of those with higher incomes. challenges. When users access the Internet exclusively by Similarly, 21% of those with a high school degree or less cell phone, no matter how smart or sophisticated the device, education accessed government information with these tools, they may not have access to all features of a website or compared to 36% of those who attended at least some college. application. At a minimum, these findings suggest the need for additional research on the correlation between social networking and Another Pew study focuses on use of government social factors such as wealth and education (12). media sites (12). Although the proportion of Americans who interact with government agencies using social media sites is small, there is little difference among the three major Social Media Metrics ethnic and racial groups. Despite similar levels of activity, however, minority Americans are more likely than white The science of measuring social media use is still evolv- Americans to believe that government use of electronic ing. Many platforms provide some level of built-in statis- communications helps keep citizens informed and makes tics. For example, Facebook counts "friends" and "likes,"

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13 Twitter tracks followers and "tweets," blogging software can ite score to represent a user's social media influence, based on count subscribers and impressions, and media-sharing sites metrics compiled for Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn (13, 14). such as YouTube and Flickr track views. These applications also provide account holders with additional tools for more Some industry experts call for more sophisticated analy- detailed analysis, such as Facebook Insights and YouTube sis, but this can require an investment in analytic software. Insight. For example, Facebook Insights tracks the number Owyang and Lovett argue that simply collecting data without of views for a post. By comparing impressions for each post, further analysis does not allow organizations to draw mean- users can learn which topics resonate with their Facebook ingful conclusions (15). For example, they say that it is not followers. In addition to these prepackaged statistics, numer- enough to track number of blog comments. Instead, orga- ous free and fee-based third-party applications are available nizations could track "audience engagement," which they for gaining additional insight into the effectiveness of social define as the ratio of total comments, shares, and trackbacks media activities. Google Analytics, for example, is primarily to total views. In other words, what percentage of viewers is used for analyzing website visits; however, this free tool also taking some kind of action--either commenting on an online enables agencies to analyze how visitors navigate to their post, forwarding it to someone else ("shares"), or provid- website (including referrals from one or more social media ing a link back to the post from their own social media site platforms) and what kind of information they are looking for ("trackbacks")? Although the advice is geared toward private (through search-engine keywords). By drilling down a little businesses that have the resources to purchase sophisticated further into the collected statistics, agencies can learn what software, the message applies to transit organizations as well. pages on their website are most popular among these visitors, Counting without context does not create a complete picture where these readers live (city, state, and country), length of of social media effectiveness. visit, and other useful characteristics. Especially common for use with Twitter, where the length of posts is constrained, Most of the agencies surveyed for this study reported link shorteners take a long web address and condense it into attempting in some way to analyze the effectiveness of their a short version for easier posting and forwarding. Many of social media strategies. Most relied on informal feedback these services allow users to track the number of times read- (94% of reporting agencies) or tracked the number of fol- ers click on the shortened link, which allows organizations to lowers using built-in application statistics (91%). Just over determine what links are popular and which are not. Finally, half (56%) used third-party statistical applications such as Klout is one of several applications that calculate a compos- Google Analytics and about 10% conducted surveys.