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We conducted this audit to assess whether the Institution’s plans for and current uses of social media productively and responsibly advance the Smithsonian mission to increase and diffuse knowledge, including whether the Institution provides adequate oversight and sufficient accountability.
The Smithsonian generally used social media responsibly. The Smithsonian content in the nearly 1,600 Smithsonian Facebook and Twitter practitioner posts we reviewed advanced the Institution’s mission to increase and diffuse knowledge. Smithsonian practitioners we interviewed regularly reviewed social media for inappropriate user content, but did not find many instances of such content. Likewise, we found no user content that we believed was inappropriate in our random sample of 14 Smithsonian Facebook pages.
However, contrary to best practices, 25 of the 30 Smithsonian pages we reviewed in a separate sample did not contain a comment policy.
At the conclusion of our audit work, the Smithsonian issued a social media policy. If followed as written, it will reinforce practitioners’ responsible use of all social media. The policy incorporates social media best practices, setting forth expectations for how to use social media responsibly, including requiring comment policies on Smithsonian social media accounts.
The Secretary and his direct reports (“Management”) have not provided adequate oversight of the Institution’s efforts to broaden access using social media, limiting accountability. The Under Secretaries have not yet established a system to measure Institution-wide social media performance, even though the Smithsonian’s Strategic Plan calls for Management to do so.
The Under Secretaries have not established a system to measure social media performance at all units because they believed that the Smithsonian had not identified a meaningful social media performance indicator. Recently, however, Management selected performance indicators that they plan to begin tracking at the start of FY 2012.
The Secretary has not appointed a Web and new media leader, as called for by the Institution’s Web and New Media Strategy, to help oversee the Institution’s plans for and strategic use of social media.
The Smithsonian did not know the full extent of its social media presence, further limiting Institutional accountability. The Smithsonian’s central directory of social media accounts was missing at least 10 percent of Smithsonian-managed accounts and lacked contact information for almost 20 percent of the registered accounts.
We found that the Smithsonian could help practitioners use social media more productively by improving information-sharing across the Institution. In August 2011, the Smithsonian established an internal information-sharing hub for its social media practitioners.
To improve oversight of and accountability for the Institution’s social media use, we recommended that the Smithsonian (1) develop a performance measurement system to evaluate whether the Institution as a whole has met its goal of broadening access using social media; (2) appoint a pan- Institutional Web and new media leader, as called for in the Smithsonian’s Web and New Media Strategy; (3) update the Smithsonian Website and Social Network Registry with social media accounts we identified; and (4) request units to close inactive accounts we identified, in accordance with the Institution’s new social media policy.
Management generally concurred with our findings and recommendations.