Maybe you thought social networking and collaboration tools were only for the enterprise. A new study shows, however, that their use in government is also fairly high.

How Government Uses Social Networking

Saba, a company that specializes in people management software, and HCI (the Human Capital Institute), performed a study on the use of social networking and collaboration solutions in government -- 607 local, state and federal.

What they found in this study was that 66% of government agencies use some form of social networking. County and municipal government leads the way at 31% usage.

This study looks at the challenges and opportunities faced by government agencies, particularly at a time when private enterprise is adopting multiple forms of social networking to help them retain talent, improve service, and meet competitive challenges," said Mike DeMarco, HCI's Senior Research Analyst. "We were pleased to see that sixty-six percent of government workplaces surveyed reported using at least one social networking tool.

The study differentiated between social networking tools like blogs, wikis and communities of practice and social networking sites like LinkedIn and and Facebook.

A few other tidbits from the report:

  • Federal agencies lead usage of social media tools for project planning and collaboration
  • Knowledge sharing and information learning and development are most likely to be effective with these tools
  • Social networking tools are most used for learning and communications
  • 55% are unsure about the use of these tools in the future
  • Security remains the top concern when it comes to using social media tools

Is Government So Different from the Enterprise?

Is there really a difference between how governments can and should use social media and social networking tools and how enterprises should use them? Not in most cases. Learning and development, communications and knowledge sharing are all activities found in both government and non-government places.

The report also cites proving the ROI for use of social networking tools as the biggest hurdle facing their future use and growth in government. Again, an issue that many enterprises also struggle with.

The big difference may lie in the type of information being shared, but only when it comes to using these tools outside of the firewall. Then security concerns do play a major role. However, many enterprises have the same challenges and concerns.

You can read the full report Social Networking in Government: Opportunities & Challenges