This new report addresses the key question of how government should measure the impact of its social media use.

The report builds on Dr. Mergel’s previous two reports for the IBM Center: Working the Network: A Manager’s Guide for Using Twitter in Government, and Using Wikis in Government:
A Guide for Public Managers
. This new report addresses the key question of how government should measure the impact of its social media use. This question is gaining increased attention within government as agencies rely more heavily on social media to interact with the public, including disseminating information to citizens.

Many believe government has been successful in using social media over the last decade. Social media has also greatly assisted the current administration in fulfilling its Open Government Initiative to increase transparency, participation, and collaboration. Government managers now face the challenge of more effectively measuring public participation and the impact of social media outreach efforts. A key additional step involves the development of a social media strategy for an agency.

While government currently focuses on “push” techniques to provide information from government publications, Professor Mergel speculates that the next big challenge will be to measure the extent to which government actively engages the public to gain access to citizen views and expertise. Professor Mergel envisions increased bi-directional citizen participation in which agencies actively “pull in” content through new forms of social media, including crowdsourcing. In a recent IBM Center report, Using Crowdsourcing in Government, Daren Brabham discusses how government can tap into citizen knowledge via crowdsourcing.

In the report, Professor Mergel also provides guidance to government managers on how they can more effectively make a business case for using social media. The business case, states Mergel, serves as a basis for management decisions to build and allocate organizational capacity or initiate changes in its social media strategy.

Given the rapidly increasing use of social media by government, we hope that this timely report assists government managers in assessing the impact of their social media activity.