Social Media Week: Is there a place for social media in procurement?

Published: February 21, 2013

Contract AwardsCybersecuritySocial Media

More and more in our fast-paced world, we are seeing social media used in government procurement. State agencies like the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development, to the entire state of Kansas now have Twitter accounts, and the Arkansas Office of State Procurement is on Facebook. State and local news is being blasted across social media via blogs, tweets, LinkedIn pages and more.

But how is this changing the procurement market? Is it beneficial or detrimental? In most cases, it’s both. It can be beneficial to release information to the public faster, but proves a disadvantage to those who aren’t able to see it right away. Additional concerns also arise with Internet privacy and security risks.

From a business standpoint, the hardest thing to track is the return on investment (ROI); it poses questions that are hard to quantify. Did social media really get the information out faster? Did more people obtain the information via social media than otherwise? How did this information influence the procurement process? These kinds of intangible quantifiers make it hard to present a case for social media’s effectiveness.

It is easy to recognize the labor hours spent tweeting, following, and friending, but it is difficult to put a number on its success. Personal experience can provide feedback, but again, it is hard to provide successful statistics for that. These variables will prove useful years down the line when there are years of social media trends to analyze.

The procurement process that has been engrained in the public makes us think faster is better. The faster we receive information, the more we can speed through the procurement process. However, is this really the end goal, and is it the most effective way to handle government procurement, which often has a major impact on the public?

Introducing social media changes the supply chain, where heavy social media users benefit from the initial heads up sent via Twitter or Facebook. Citizens not immersed in social media, or who may not have the resources or manpower to stay on top of it, are at a disadvantage. Are we heading toward procurement Darwinism, where vendors who cannot keep up cannot play in the market? In our technology-based, one-click world, this very well may be the case.

Most states already have social media policies implemented, and the few that don’t are working toward one. At this time, no state has a ban against using social media in the procurement process. Most states see social media as an opportunity to encourage state services and inform citizens and vendors of key happenings in real time.

How much trust is lost in this one-click world where things can be written, published, and received by millions in a matter of seconds? With unverified editors and hackers looming, the validity and authenticity of news is often questioned. Regarding procurement, it is best to take any piece of information as a tip, and not an absolute fact. Take extra measures to check with the procurement office to ensure the information is valid.

So, should vendors stare unblinkingly at their screen waiting for a potential update? Should they pull the metaphorical blanket over their heads and wait for final word from a procurement office like the old days? The answer is neither. While vendors should be on a constant lookout for new procurement details, it is also wise to double check sources to ensure you are getting quality updates. Make sure the information has been verified and is accurate before acting upon it.

Deltek not only uses social media regularly, but utilizes teams of analysts to ensure the information presented is correct and up to date. Click here to check out our Linked-in page or here to follow us on twitter.


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