Contractors embrace social media

Greatest challenge is measuring return on social media investments

Federal contractors have jumped into social media in a big way, but many are finding it difficult to calculate a return on their investment, according to a new survey of 167 federal contractor employees by the research firm Market Connections Inc.

Fully 87 percent of federal contractor employees surveyed said they are using social media at home or at work, and only 13 percent are not using social media, said John Kagia, research director at Market Connections.


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Fifty-nine percent of the survey respondents said their companies are using social media for customer engagement, 59 percent for marketing, 48 percent for generating leads, 42 percent for employee recruitment and retention, and 41 percent for collaboration.

Thirty-six percent said they are using social media “informally,” and 37 percent said they do not use social media to market to government. Only 19 percent of those surveyed said their organizations had a formal social media strategy.

The greatest challenge for federal contractor use of social media was in measuring return on investment, cited by 63 percent; lack of resources, cited by 50 percent; difficulties in identifying the appropriate channels for engagement, cited by 46 percent; and security, cited by 45 percent.

“It is not easy to measure return on investment,” Kagia said. “The traffic does not necessarily show how effective the tools are.”

The most popular social media tools among federal contractors are wikis, followed by commercial social networks, followed by blogs.

LinkedIn was cited among the most popular social media sites for federal contractors, Kagia said. “It is very targeted and very effective at targeting business users,” he added.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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