New Study Ranks Public Sector’s Digital IQ

NASA and the Army among the ‘geniuses’ of social media usage in the federal government.

by / November 30, 2010

A new study ranking government, nonprofit and industry trade groups for their use of social media and online strategies revealed that more than 50 percent of the organizations polled are not using these digital avenues as effectively as they could be.

The first Digital IQ Index: Public Sector was co-authored by digital think tank L2 and the George Washington University School of Business, and ranked 100 digitally active public-sector groups on how well they are using different technologies to their greatest ability, or how high their digital IQ is.

NASA, the White House and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals are respectively ranked as having the highest digital IQs. The International Civil Aviation Organization, the Universal Postal Union, and the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America (IIABA) came in last.

The IQ score comprised four different category rankings: effectiveness of the organization’s website (40 percent); digital marketing, including off-site brand presence and visibility on search engines (30 percent); use of social media and influence on major social media platforms (20 percent); and mobile device use, including compatibility and marketing on smartphones (10 percent).

After researching each organization, the authors converted the scores to those similar to an IQ test. NASA, which scored the highest with 184, was considered “genius,” and the IIABA with the lowest score of 38 was in the “feeble” class.

Five percent of the organizations scored in the “genius” category, while more than 50 percent of the organizations indexed registered digital IQs in the “feeble” and “challenged” ranks, the study reported.

The study revealed that most organizations are creating an online presence, but now “the big problem is, do people know how to strategically use the technology?” said Doug Guthrie, dean of the George Washington University School of Business, in a previous interview.

“We think that the organizations and the people that are really effective in engaging it are really going to be out and ahead in terms of influencing the public sector,” he said.

NASA’s website generates more than 3 million unique visitors a month, and the organization has more than 6,000 Twitter followers and more than 150,000 Facebook fans.

The study also highlights the U.S. Army, which came in fourth on the list, for introducing a successful recruiting campaign through interactive social media.

The National Guard partnered with World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) to launch the Show Us Your Guns website. It allows the National Guard to tap into the WWE’s 15 million passionate fans, a demographic that aligns with its recruiting targets. Site users are invited to bare their arms and upload shirtless pictures of themselves for browsers to rate and share via e-mail and social media.

The study found that most organizations had a functioning website, but social media use was what really set them apart from less active groups.