J.D. Power Reports: U.S. Federal Government Performs Very Well When Using Social Media To Service Citizens, But Struggles to Market Benefits and Services Effectively

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WASHINGTON, D.C.: 15 May 2014 —About 14 percent of Americans use social media as their main source of information about a federal government agency and 30 percent use social media to ask the government a question or resolve a problem, according to the J.D. Power 2014 Social Media Benchmark StudySM—Government.

The inaugural study is based on responses from more than 2,600 U.S. citizens who have interacted with the federal government via the social media channels of various agencies. Fielded from November 2013 to February 2014, the study measures overall U.S. citizen experiences with 12 federal agencies through their social media platforms for both marketing and servicing needs. The study establishes quantitative performance benchmarks and industry best practices that provide the government with insights to help it maximize its social media efforts.

“Each federal agency’s social media strategy is different based on that particular agency’s mission,” said Greg Truex, director of the government practice at J.D. Power. “In the end, however, a citizen’s interaction with one agency will set an expectation for another agency to live up to, whether it is positive or negative. An effective social media strategy can ultimately reduce marketing and servicing costs when it’s integrated effectively into an agency’s overall communications plan.”

Truex said that in order for social media strategies to succeed, agencies need to understand what drives satisfaction in social interactions across their constituencies. Agencies shouldn’t just focus on citizens who are highly engaged in social media, but also those who are more casually engaged.

The study focuses on two types of social media engagements, marketing and servicing, and provides best practices for each. Federal agencies use social media marketing to build awareness of services and products offered, and to foster positive relationships with citizens. Servicing engagements via social media include answering specific questions from citizens or resolving their problems.


  • Overall citizen satisfaction with social media interactions with the federal government averages 802 (on a 1,000-point scale) for servicing engagements and 711 for marketing engagements. Among the government agencies included in the study, only the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) performs particularly well in both types of social interactions.
  • The most-frequently used social media marketing channel is Facebook (25%), followed by YouTube (13%) and Twitter (9%). The most-frequently used social media servicing channel is Facebook (74%), followed by Twitter (30%) and YouTube (17%).
  • On average, citizens have contacted a federal agency via social media 7.53 times during the past six months regarding a service they are receiving. The White House has the highest average number of contacts during the past six months at nearly 30, followed by the Department of State with more than 16 contacts.
  • Nearly half (47%) of citizens use social media to get information about laws and regulations; 29 percent use it as a communications channel to ask a question; and 21 percent use social platforms to resolve a problem.
  • Citizens make positive comments regarding the federal government nearly three times more than negative comments (48% vs. 18%, respectively).
  • Nearly one-third (30%) of social media contacts with the federal government are to ask a question, with only 72 percent of those citizens receiving a response from an agency.
  • Among citizens who received a response from an agency, 70 percent indicate the representative also offered to assist them with other issues and 56 percent indicate the representative also offered them additional services.

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