This blog entry originally appeared at Reach The Public.
One of my first mentors who ran a region of what was then called Ameritech (a baby bell in the midwest), had a saying, “If you value it, measure it.”
The larger the organization, the more this holds true. In government, tracking results and sharing results promotes transparency, accountability and understanding of the value of the work you’re doing within your agency.
The CDC National Center for Health Marketing has taken impressive steps to get their Web metrics online. They’ve actually been doing this for years. Here’s an example of the kinds of reports they post.
Here are just a handful of the benefits of getting the data out there for the world to see:
- Makes clear to internal and external stakeholders how you measure the impact of what you are doing
- Gives everyone something to celebrate and work towards
- Engages colleagues and helps them see and understand how they might be able to assist with your work. For example, if getting people signed up for email alerts is one of your metrics as it is at CDC, your colleagues might see that and decide to promote the email alert option at a future conference
- Encourages continuous improvement mentality
- Gives everyone an opportunity to ask tough questions “Is activity A worth the investment? Should we be using more of technology X if it’s working so well?”
- Helps ensure continuity when personnel changes occur
With the plethora of new technologies out there, it is even more important to share your stats with all stakeholders to make clear that the work you’re doing matters and that you know how to gauge whether it is successful. Just like you track the number of page views, Web visits, and the number of people signining up for your email alerts, you should also track Web 2.0 / Social Media metrics.
You can track your Twitter followership ( If you have a Twitter feed, use TwitterGrader to track followership overtime), number of comments on your blog, number of Facebook fans, and man other metrics without much effort.
There are even external free services that make some of the tracking easy such as Quantcast which I wrote about last year. I can’t vouch for their accuracy, but they provide additional data points that can be helpful.
I don’t believe that hard metrics are all that matter. In fact, I find it much more compelling when we can go further and tie these metrics directly to mission and to $ savings if cost reduction is a goal.
The Federal Consulting Group Proactive Communication Roundtable in May featured case studies by GPO and HHS on how they had used digital communication to support their missions (drive book sales for GPO and improve H1N1 outreach for HHS). Note how these case studies connect simple metrics with the actual impact on the public as it relates to agency mission.
Are other agencies besides CDC publishing their Web metrics for all to see?