NASA rated savviest about social media

By Steven Overly
Monday, November 29, 2010

"That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."

Those are 58 iconic characters and spaces. Perfect for retweeting. Nice work, Mr. Armstrong.

If man first touched down on the moon today, NASA would likely tweet the news. The agency might even stream video live on the Internet and produce an interactive graphic for its Web site.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration was dubbed the most social media and Web savvy entity among 100 of its public sector peers in a report produced by the business schools at George Washington University and New York University.

The study calculated a "digital IQ" based on the functionality and look of the organization's Web page, its Internet and mobile marketing initiatives, and its presence and popularity on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter.

"The public sector space is a perfect way to look at questions of democratization and think through social media and how it's having an impact on the fundamentals of this country," said Doug Guthrie, dean of GWU's business school.

The top five were rounded out, in order, by the White House, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the Army and the Democratic National Committee. The Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America logged in last on the list.

And they really need social media?

"They need something," said Scott Galloway, an NYU professor and founder of L2, the think tank behind the formula. "They may not need a million followers on Facebook, but they need a site that's easily searchable. There is some basic blocking and tackling that these guys aren't doing."

NASA scored the highest of any organization reviewed since L2 began studying digital IQs last September, Galloway said, beating out brands such as Ralph Lauren and Mercedes. The space agency's social media manager, Stephanie Schierholz, said the organization's efforts only began last year.

"This gives us another avenue to reach out and engage with people," she said.

Galloway's L2 has generated studies on the automotive and retail industries, as well as the U.S. Senate, among others. Guthrie said the two schools plan to publish another four to six D.C.-centric lists in the next year.

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