Facebook-using federal managers "surge," survey finds

Most of the government respondents who use the social networking site use it for work, the study says.

More than half the government's management-level employees use Facebook, and of them, most use it for work, a media marketing survey has found.

The 2011 Federal Media and Marketing Study reveals a significant "surge" in the use of social media, and Facebook is leading the rush, said Lisa Dezzutti, president of Market Connections Inc., which conducted the survey.

Of more than 3,000 government employees who responded, 54 percent said they use Facebook, compared to 39 percent last year. Only a fifth of those, however, said they log in to the seven-year-old social networking site at least once a day.

Forty-five percent said they use it for work and personal purposes, 49 percent said they use it only for personal purposes, and 6 percent said they use it exclusively for work.

The media and marketing study was conducted from November 2010 through January 2011. Surveys were sent to 120,000 federal employees, 3,014 of whom responded, Dezzutti said. They were quizzed about the newspapers and magazines they read, the television and radio stations they tune in to, and the Internet sites they frequent.

Government Executive provided names from its readership database for use in conducting the study.

Twenty-six percent of the federal workers who responded said they use Facebook to communicate with colleagues, 17 percent said they use it to communicate with the public, 8 percent said they use it to communicate with other agencies and 4 percent said they use it to recruit.

In addition, 26 percent said they use Facebook for conducting research.

Federal workers use other social media to a lesser degree: 34 percent said they use YouTube, 18 percent use LinkedIn and 9 percent use Twitter. Five percent use GovLoop, a social media site that calls itself "Facebook for government," and 2 percent use GovTwit, a directory of government social media.

Forty-six percent said they are allowed to use social media while at work -- a big increase from a year ago, when only 20 percent said they were allowed, Dezzutti said.

The Media and Marketing Study aims to provide vendors who sell goods and services to the government a clearer picture of the types of media their intended customers prefer. Especially now, "with limited marketing budgets, you've got to be laser-focused" on how to deliver information to potential customers, Dezzutti told a gathering of vendors Tuesday morning.

The survey also is intended to help publications, broadcasters and websites understand evolving trends in media preference.

For $3,850, Market Connections offers its customers access to an online analytical tool that sorts through data from the survey to provide insight into the media preferences of more specific groups of managers. For example, data can be displayed according to agency, by the age of survey respondents, by the goods and services they buy, and by numerous other criteria.

The idea is to "target the right audience and maximize media effectiveness based on actual usage," a paper flyer from Market Connections says.

Those surveyed were mid-to-senior-level decision-makers who wield a degree of influence over what the government buys -- from aircraft to office supplies to information technology equipment and services, said Dezzutti and survey partner Sara Leiman, vice president of TMP Government, a government-oriented communications firm.

About 60 percent of those surveyed work for the military, and about 40 percent work for civilian government agencies.

They are well-educated -- 31 percent have master's degrees, 26 percent have college degrees, 21 percent have some college education and 7 percent have doctorates.

Many of them are older -- 35 percent are between 45 and 54 years old, and 33 percent are older than 55.

Even among those 55 and older, 40 percent said they use Facebook. Among the 21- to 34-year-olds, 74 percent use Facebook.

Among other survey findings:

--Print media is not dead yet. Forty percent of those surveyed said they still prefer print for trade publications. Twenty-nine percent said the read both print and online. Only 1 percent preferred reading trade publications on a mobile device.

--Weather.com was the most viewed website, followed by CNN.com and Fox.com.

--Military respondents preferred Fox.com, while civilian employees turned more often to CNN.com.

--Trade shows remain more popular than webinars.

--Laptop computers are by far the preferred mobile device for receiving email and viewing news websites. BlackBerrys are a distant second, followed even more distantly by iPhones and Android smartphones.

--In the Washington area news radio dominates all other radio programming.

Government Executive was listed as the top publication that focuses on the federal government among those surveyed -- 39 percent said they read it. The GovExec.com website was the third most popular after Weather.com and CNN.com among civilian government workers. It was 10th among military employees.

Nextgov.com ranked 10th among the websites civilian workers read.