How to Measure the Performance of your Government Social Media Initiative

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This post is based on a comment I left on the following OECD blog post the other week : Measuring government impact in a social media world

One thing I like to do off the bat when working on social media performance reporting for my government clients, is to differentiate between three basic levels of reporting (inspired by some Altimeter Group research) depending on which level of the organization I am working with (using the Canadian federal government structure as an example).

These are as follows:

  1. Business Metrics (e.g. Reputation) –>For executives and senior managers (DG’s, ADM’s and DM’s)
  2. Social Media Analytics (e.g. Share of Voice/Digital Footprint) –>For business unit stakeholders (Senior Managers and Directors)
  3. Engagement Data (e.g. Re-tweets) –>For community managers (Officers and Managers)

Noting the above, I always firmly emphasize that it’s impossible to measure performance at any level without setting proper goals and objectives in the first place. This often leads into a discussion on the difference between the two, as they are often confused. The basic things to remember are that goals are broad, whereas objectives should ideally be constructed using the SMART acronym (Specific, Measurable, Assignable, Realistic, Time-Related). Rather than getting into that here, I’ll provide an example for each level of social media reporting that I use.

Business Metrics

  • Goal: To significantly increase the overall level of trust Canadians place in our organization
  • Objective: To attain an average rating of at least 9/10 on our annual online brand reputation survey this year for the question relating to trust.

Social Media Analytics

  • Goal: To grow the digital footprint of our organization on the social web
  • Objective: To raise the amount of qualifying inbound monthly traffic to our website coming from social media platforms by 5% every month for the next 6 months.

Engagement Data

  • Goal: To build a strong network of “industry” professionals on Twitter
  • Objective: To have at least 25 “industry” professionals add our account to a Twitter List by the end of the month

The social media performance evaluation then simply becomes a report against the objectives.

Note that all of the above goals and objectives are “outcome” based, as opposed to “output” based. The latter approach is lazy and ineffective as it merely leads to performance being evaluated based on whether or not somebody completed an activity (e.g. tweet 10 times each week), without looking at the intended outcome.

Of course, setting up goals and objectives is not always easy as it often requires research (digital presence audit) and alignment with strategic priorities (internal interviews with senior management)

The problem I still see in most government organizations is that a social media presence is typically established first, and then everyone scrambles to figure out what to measure. Often times, in the process of doing this they are blinded by pretty pie charts and colourful visualizations that tend to come with social media measurement tools and thus end up measuring irrelevant, off-strategy items.

Therefore to sum up:

  1. Do your research to set benchmarks and identify needs
  2. Create goals at each level of reporting
  3. Create applicable SMART objectives for each goal, at each level
  4. Report on performance

Cheers,

MK (@mikekujawski)

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