Monitoring and measurement of a social media program is similar to that of evaluation in a community program. According to best practices of program planning and design evaluation is integrated throughout the whole program. For example when I begin to plan a program I start with listening which I view as a form of evaluation. Then I determine my outcomes and objectives as well as the measures in which I want to monitor. At this point I am thinking about the why and the what: why am I doing this program, what do I want to see change? I also make sure that the outcomes and objectives are specific and measureable. Then I can think about the tools that I will use to measure the outcomes.
In a social media program it is necessary to also integrate monitoring and measurement into the whole strategy. When you begin a social media strategy align the social media objectives with the organizations objectives, making certain that objectives are specific and measureable. Olivier Blanchard suggests in “Social Media ROI” that, tying a social media program to measurable business objectives is crucial because it gives purpose, momentum, makes everyone involved accountable, and gives timely information and insight on what works and what doesn’t.
During the evaluation of a community program it is appropriate to collect a variety of measures, as is the same in a social media strategy. Determine what types of quantitative and qualitative data will answer your “why” questions. A variety of evaluations should also be considered; participant evaluation, program evaluation, formative evaluation etc. Essentially this information will lead to better program development, improvements and sustainability.
Another similarity in program planning and social media strategy is the selection of measurement tools. When selecting measurement tools it is important to consider the audience, intention of your program or message and the delivery. It is also important to be aware of current tools, their functions and updates. You may want to look at how other organizations or companies similar to your organization are using the tools.
Lastly, program planning and a social media strategy are similar in the analysis and reporting. Analyzing the data will serve as a guide in the decision making process. You will not want to let your evaluation or monitoring go to waste by not using the data and information. Make an action plan for how the analysis will be used. Blanchard sums up this phase best, “your entire social media program is driven by trial and error, adaption, and repetition. Let your measurement practice be your compass: Focus on what works, don’t waste your time on what doesn’t, and be patient.”