The more I read about monitoring, measuring, and return on investment in Oliver Blanchard’s book Social Media ROI the more it began to sound kind of familiar. Concepts I was reading about would spin off thoughts about the 2013 United Way grant for my Woman Food program I was working on at the same time. As well they should since planning of a social media program must align with goals of the overall cause.
To decide what to monitor or measure one must keep those goals, and more specifically your social media program’s targets, in mind. These targets correspond to SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timely) objectives in the overall cause program planning process. Next ask “What indicators will show whether my social media program is hitting those targets and if not where the problems lie.” This is important because these indicators will be used to tie my social media program to the success of Woman Food and that success to return on investment of grant funds.
My program evaluation class professor had two mantras. The first was “Make sure that what you want to measure is necessary to measure.” In other words what is the purpose? I found that it’s easy to get overwhelmed or carried away by lots of graphs and tables unnecessary for a small program in its infancy. I decided to keep it broader and simpler at first. On the other hand as my program grows or if an organization is monitoring several programs there are always tweaks if not outright overhauls that must happen regularly to keep content fresh and current and community needs well served. These might take tracking of more specific types of data. My professor’s second mantra was “Does it measure what you want it to measure?” In other words is it really an accurate measurement of your target?
Indicators of effectiveness:
- What portion of my target audience does this site reach?
- Did visitors to this site learn anything about nutrition, gardening or breastfeeding (my objectives)?
- Did this site convert visits into registrations for get-togethers or counseling (services) where community members have the opportunity to learn about these things?
- Was there any growth in indicators A, B or C?
|Things to monitor/measure
|Total # of brand mentions categorized by social media type||A, B||What types of social media are currently being used for my brand?||Google Alerts|
|Total # of WF mentions on any site||B, D||What’s the level of chatter about WF?||Google Alerts, Google Analytics|
|Total # of visitors to each WF related site
|A, D||Is social media a good way to reach my community? Which sites does my community prefer?||Google Analytics, Facebook Insights
|Age, gender and if possible zip code of visitors to each site||A||Am I reaching my target community on this site||Facebook Insights, Google Analytics|
|Total # of new visitors||D||Is my site attracting new visitors?||Google Analytics|
|# times visitors entered site through referral by other specific sites||A||What other sites are good partners?||Google Analytics (Entrances)|
|# Clicks on links in all WF sponsored social media sites||B||Are the links I have provided in content of interest?||Google Analytics (Goal)|
|Time spent on blog site||B||Are they reading the content?
|Google Analytics (Time after search)|
|Tracking of positive and negative comments on all WF sponsored social media sites||B||Is the content helpful?||Book Fresh (Customer reviews), Google Analytics (Impressions)|
|# of visits to registration page
|C||Are they reading about my services?
|Google Analytics (Goal starts)|
|# of registrants||C||Do my services sound appealing?
|Google Analytics (Goal completions)|
|# of registrants from specific platform||A||Which platform is most effective marketing for my services?||WF Facebook page Events (Facebook), Book Fresh (WC website), possibly Eventbrite (email list, blog)|
When choosing a measurement tool take a strictly practical approach. Start by looking at the tools already in use by the organization or program. Is another tool you are using already monitoring or measuring what you need to? Some social media platforms have measurement tools already built in waiting to be launched. Facebook, Twitter, WordPress and Eventbrite all offer some analytics. If you want information from a number of social media sources Google Analytics or Hoot Suite help to compile that data. Scrutinize all tools carefully and test them out before committing to a contract. Is the tool easy to use? Is the help section actually helpful? Is it reliable? Does it do a more accurate job of measurement or a wider or narrower scope of monitoring than you current tool? Does it organize the data in such a way that helps you to make sense of it and report it to others? Is it affordable?
Then purchase the best that you can afford because accurate data monitored and analyzed both frequently and over time can save you valuable time and resources wasted going in a wrong direction. For the scope and budget of Woman Food in the next month or two those programs will be at the bare minimum aspects of Google Alerts, Facebook Insights and BookFresh. Within the next year and a half I will be working on adding WordPress and possibly Eventbrite as program tools so may tap into some of the analytics they have to offer. If it seems beneficial at that point I’ll also begin to use Google Analytics. As my program grows or becomes more integrated into the Wellness Center its growth targets will change. As they do I know it will be necessary to re-evaluate these tools to be sure they are still effectively monitoring or measuring what I need them to.
Susan Gigot-Klein is working toward a Master of Nutritional Science degree at UW-Stevens Point and is the creator and coordinator of Woman Food, a nutrition awareness program offered by the Wellness Center of Door County.