With the election behind us and new state legislative sessions on the horizon, the State Policy Network member organizations have been busy building their brands, as our rankings of how they use social media have shifted dramatically.

Although the Chicago Bears are not competing in the NFL playoffs, the Illinois Policy Institute is dominating in their use of social media, remaining in the top spot again this month.

Your January 2013 SPN social media rankings:



There were several new entrants this week as well. The Freedom Foundation was a big mover, going from #13 to #2. If they keep growing, they could give the Illinois Policy Institute a run for their money.

Colorado’s own Independence Institute took a giant leap, moving from #31 to #4, fueled by a growth of Facebook Likes but more importantly they have a large share of their audience talking about them on Facebook. This high ratio of conversations drives up the engagement score which is part of the algorithm.

The Mackinac Center for Public Policy, the Yankee Institute for Public Policy, and the Advance Arkansas Institute were also new additions to the top ten. All in all, half of this month’s top 10 were new entrants.

Our takeaway: competition is good for the market and think tanks alike.

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.


The SPN Social Media Index was created via Insights from Flat Creek (https://insights.flatcreek.com). Information was compiled on 1/8/2013. 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.

Questions? Feedback?

For questions or comments regarding this study, please contact Allen Fuller with Flat Creek Digital.