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Biological Informatics Program Makes Strides in Social Media

social media chart
This month marked a milestone for the USGS Biological Informatics Program (BIP) on Twitter, which surpassed 700 followers to its National Biological Information Infrastructure (NBII) presence. With this growing number, it's no wonder that Twitter is among the top Web sites sending visitors to the NBII-Info blog (part of BIP's social media efforts).

BIP started using social media in 2009, primarily as a way of connecting and updating NBII users. Since then it has made great strides not only using Twitter, but also via Facebook and the NBII-Info Blog.

When the NBII Facebook page was launched in February 2009, it was our first experiment in using social media to reach out to partners and users. Naturally, some of the "old hands" on our staff had doubts about the real value of the undertaking; the "fans" were a handful of our employees and partners. But now after a few years of experience, as well as the continuing maturation of social media in general, everyone can see the benefits more clearly.

NBII's community on Facebook has grown slowly but steadily, and now has more than 360 members. But the number of those who view posts on Facebook is much larger. By "liking" the Facebook page, the members of the community expose posts to an average of 3,000 views per month. Based on 2010 statistics measuring the number of users, the NBII Facebook page was the number one referral site to the NBII-Info blog. This means that out of all Web sites linking to the NBII-Info blog, the Facebook page refers the largest number of visitors. Google, RSS feeds, and Twitter are among other top referrals to the blog. Taking into consideration that the NBII-Info blog is a regular electronic channel of news that features links to unique Web resources - it becomes clear that social media channels are important links in the chain of content delivery.

BIP will continue to use social media tools to provide better access to biological information and encourage interaction with partners, colleagues, and other users of our products and services, and will begin this year to expand the use of social media beyond the NBII. In fact, all BIP social media use is nested within the structure created by USGS for ensuring that the entire Bureau can leverage the power of this important outreach channel.

Today, many - maybe even most - government agencies use social media (or social networking) as an effective way to connect with citizens and other agencies to help solve problems, share information and build communities around social issues, and help the government operate in a more efficient and effective manner.

Stay connected to the latest happenings by subscribing via RSS feed to all of our social media. Simply click on the rss icon graphic icon on any of the social media sites to subscribe. You can also join our Facebook Fan page at, "Follow Us" on Twitter, and link to us on Blogger at

social media pie chart graphic
The chart above shows the distribution of percentage of visits to the NBII-Info blog from Web sites linking to it. Data source: Google Analytics