London, social media and evaluation

The impact of social media on modern communication is becoming ever more evident. For me this was brought home again a few days ago when I spent a whole day in London all focused around discussions about Twitter. This would have been unheard of just six months ago – spending time in London on issues such as Twitter and Facebook.

It was the success of #GMP24 that led to the visit to the capital, first to a meeting at the Cabinet Office and then later to attend the Golden Twit awards. Why has the 24 hour campaign had such a lasting impact? I believe it is because it was such a simple campaign that was perfectly suited to Twitter and was an example of openness and transparency. It was something that signified how public sector agencies need to start to work.

From the visit and the discussions it was clear that PR and communication professionals are looking at ways to use social media more effectively and the key to achieving this is to have comprehensive ways to evaluate the activity. There is no simple solution to this ongoing challenge. After listening to a number of presentations about possible applications that can be used to support Twitter and develop evaluation I came to the conclusion that you have to know how you want to use the network before you can identify the most suitable evaluation tool.

But you have to be clear what is being said about you or your organisation across all networks before you start to outline the social media strategy. It then may raise issues of where to focus efforts which in turn will highlight applications and tools that you may need to use.

I have said on many occasions in this blog about how important evaluation is to communication. In these days of cutbacks and financial challenges the evaluation of communication activity is being raised up the agenda. Being able to evaluate the impact of your social media strategy is going to be essential. How many organisations have linked strategy and evaluation so that they can drive their on-line presence?

Perhaps when communication professionals start to do that, we would see the use of Facebook or Twitter as more than just entertaining it would be seen as critical to the business.

In the aftermath of #GMP24 it was not the two Golden Twit awards that was the most important result. It was the combined audience of 78,742 that was reached during the 24 hour period, the 21,000 people who viewed the activity through the GMP website and the fact that there are still more than 17,000 followers on Twitter that were key results in the evaluation. All those say more about the success of the activity than anything else.

The challenge as we go forward remains how to evaluate our activity on social media sites. The impact of social media is clear but there is more to do if we are to be able to explain this to the chief executives and bosses so they understand and support activity.  But as communication professionals we are doing it and will do it – there is no alternative if we are to secure the future.

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4 Responses to London, social media and evaluation

  1. loulouk says:

    Hiya,
    Evaluation is something which I am trying to focus on at the moment, for obvious reasons. Things I’ve come up with so far:
    Installing Google Analytics on every single web page possible to track access.
    Understanding the different between repeat visits, individual visits and total visits.
    Understanding the link between the above, and word of mouth communication. E.g. we know 2000+ are reading our Facebook updates on winter services. How many of those people are telling the other 3 members of their families who then pass on the info on the telephone that night to another family who……?
    Which leads me to communication is no longer in silos. FB pages get tweeted, get quoted in newspapers, get commented on down the pub. How do we measure this? Invisibility of communication.
    Klout. It’s algorithms are a little dodgy but looking at your organisations score and comparing it to similar organisations/companies/SME’s can be very helpful – it focuses on influence, the key for effective Twitter communication.
    Understanding the seed effect is different to controlling the seed effect is different to measuring the seed effect. In other words, once your FB update is in someones stream, how do we know how many other people who never join Groups on principle have seen it in local area, assuming people have higher proportion of ‘friends’ in local area.

    It’s complicated. Twitter are shortly to be releasing an analytics package similar to Google’s and you can see why. Even blogs are a minefield. Page views don’t mean people are necessarily reading past the first sentence, for example. Until we’ve got the grasp of this, we cannot tailor messages and campaigns to specific audiences – we must first know the audiences, their attention span, their behaviour.

    Not enough research. Not enough at all.

    • amandacomms1 says:

      Thanks for that. It is a complex thing but you outline some useful points for anyone wrestling with the issue. And I completely agree with your view that ‘until we’ve got the grasp of this, we cannot tailor messages and campaigns to specific audiences’ and we cannot do this with any clear success.

  2. Sarah says:

    Hi Amanda

    Just found your blog – very interesting!

    Just wondered if any more detailed evaluation had been done on #GMP24? The followers, click-throughs and amount of media coverage was impressive, but all quantatative. Did you set any objectives in terms of decreasing inappropriate 999 calls, even in the short term, or sentiment towards GMP or similar, or was the aim simply to raise awareness of your social media presence and the sorts of calls that GMP deal with? How do you measure that against the time and resources you had to dedicate to the exercise?

    Not being critical at all in my questioning – in a similar role to you and genuinely interested.

    Thanks

    Sarah

    • amandacomms1 says:

      We have done a full evaluation of the media coverage and the followers that #GMP24 gained. We never had any objectives to decrease the number of inappropriate 999 calls, although we did raise the issue during the 24 hours. The objective was to highlight the issue that the Force, like most police forces, is the agency of last resort and has a lot more than just crime to deal with. I will be happy to share the evaluation we have done with you. In terms of the resources we used to achieve it, it was all done with the minimum number of staff.

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