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June saw several state legislatures recess sine die (thank goodness) but that didn’t mean the members of the State Policy Network took a break. Quite the contrary, it appears SPN’s members are more active on social media than ever.

The Top 10 did not see a lot of movement this month, but beyond these top numbers, we saw some really interesting developments.

For one thing the number of people talking about member organizations on Facebook jumped dramatically. This number is in part due to a correction in how we gather data, but not enough to account for the dramatic change we saw.

I want to express many thanks to Lasse Lund with the Freedom Foundation who has helped talk through several of my assumptions and methodology about how to best measure the impact of a given organization on social media. He is doing terrific work at the Freedom Foundation and it’s been helpful to have a good discussion about the numbers.

One of the things he pointed out is that Facebook’s “Talking About” number can fluctuate dramatically throughout the month — as it is a rolling average. So theoretically, an organization could have a banner week with some great, viral content, but we would miss it if we pulled numbers a couple of weeks after that.

To account for this, we’ve gone to each organization’s Facebook page and looked at the timeline chart of that page’s activity, which shows changes in the Talking About number over the past month. We then took the highest number over the past month for each organization. This way we can safely be sure each organization is putting their best foot forward in the numbers we compile.

This new method certainly did make a difference for the Freedom Foundation, for example. When we initially pulled the numbers last Friday, their Talking About number was 546. However, when we looked back over the past month, we saw a massive conversation going on back at the end of May and beginning of June. As such, their Talking About number jumped to 31,365! This change bolted them into first place in that category.

It was not enough, however, to knock off the reigning champs. Your June 2013 SPN social media rankings:

State Policy Network social media rankings

How Illinois Policy Institute Won

Let’s be sure to give credit where credit is due: the Freedom Foundation won on Facebook hands down. But the Illinois Policy Institute packs a powerful one-two punch. They have a huge following on Twitter — the largest of any SPN group by double. They also have more mentions on Twitter than anyone else. Their 2nd place finish for Facebook, when combined with their leadership role on Twitter, was enough to hang on to the top spot. You can see how the gap has narrowed though. This month is the lowest score the Illinois Policy Institute has had since last November.

What will next month hold? Stay tuned!

How This Works

More than a few SPN organizations have reached out to either learn more about the rankings, or to make their case for a higher ranking. Here’s how we reach what we believe to be a very accurate measure of the strength of a social media program.

We measure social media effectiveness by looking at two core metrics: reach and engagement. We then see how those relate to each other. For instance, some SPN groups have a lot of followers on Twitter or Facebook, yet did not make the top 10. Why? Because they have very few people talking about them on these channels.

It is easy to assume that as the audience grows, the share of that audience who participates will decline. That depends on how the audience is built. An audience built by ads alone will likely not be as engaged as one built by organic methods. It also depends on the creativity of the organization.

Have other tips for using social media effectively? Drop them in the comments below!

Looking for Your Group?

While we cannot release the full list of results, we have created state-specific profiles for organizations who have asked to see how they ranked. If you are interested in looking at your organization, just contact us and we’ll put one together for you.

Methodology

The SPN Social Media Index was created by RootsHQ. Information was compiled on 6/21/2013. Data was recorded for the following metrics:

Facebook Likes
Facebook Talking About This
Twitter Followers
Twitter Mentions

Based off of these metrics, researchers also developed engagement scores for Facebook and Twitter. Due to inconsistent adoption and smaller audience size, metrics for Pinterest, Flickr, LinkedIn, YouTube, Vimeo, PicasaWeb and mobile apps were not pulled, although some members have adopted these tools.

Each of these six metrics were given a score relative to the rank of the organization for that metric. A total of those scores was then compiled and ranked. The top possible score would be 100 if an organization was ranked first for all metrics. The lowest possible score would be 0 for an organization that ranked last for all metrics.

Researchers collected website information from the SPN Directory and Google. If links to social media properties were not available directly on the organizations’ websites, they were further compiled by searching Google, Facebook, and Twitter.

Additional information was collected to provide context to the social media numbers. These details included:

State Population
State Expenditures (2010)
State Debt (2010)
State 2008 presidential election results

While information specifically regarding the operations of SPN members, such as revenue and number of employees, was not readily available, that information will be requested for future updates to the SPN Social Media Index.

For questions or comments regarding this study, please contact Allen Fuller with RootsHQ.