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Performance managing your social media: Part 1

Measuring the effectiveness of your social media effort: Or answering the really tough questions from people who are a little bit nervous about social media.

At the recent LocalGovCamp, I was asked to present a session on performance management for social media. This is a little like performance managing telephone use. Yes, you can measure how many calls you receive, the time taken, lost calls and possibly even action taken because of phone calls, but a lot of the most productive phone calls in local government are conversations between people – someone who needs something and someone who can help them. The objective isn’t using the telephone, it’s merely a tool to help you get the job done.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t be better at measuring what we can measure and understanding where social media can add value to local public services. When is social media most effective, with whom and how can we get better at it? I mean why else would you want to know? Why else would you want to measure and monitor performance.

Well, there is another reason. And in a room of true believers that reason is to build up enough evidence to help the social media curious take a plunge into using social media more effectively in their services. It’s about helping councils move from a social media broadcast model to a conversation model to embedding it in services which become more open, responsive and just plain better.

So where are we in terms of measuring social media performance? Well, not very far… We do some measurement in terms of followers, likes, and retweets and some people maybe even do a little bit in terms of understanding the value of channel shift (examples include sharing winter travel advice on Facebook and seeing a reduction of calls to the call centre – a quantifiable savings)

But on the other hand, we’re not terribly good at performance management anyway. We can quantify the quantifiable in terms of activity, but we don’t always start with the objectives, the reason we do stuff and then measure up against that. For many councils, their use of social media doesn’t fit any particular objective, but instead is experiment or a kind of social me-too-ism. That’s still in the ok territory for now, so quantitative measures like followers or just the fact that you’ve done it means you’ve met your objective. But without evaluation, where can you go next?


At the beginning of this session – we looked at where people wanted to better measure effectiveness at social media use. In the next post, we’ll look at what some people are already doing now and how we can make that even better.

  • telling the qualitative story
  • not reducing everything to a number
  • reducing things to a number that tells a meaningful story
  • reputational measures, understanding how
  • measuring the effectiveness of conversations (did the conversations lead anywhere, what happened as a result)
  • what’s the value of these conversations
  • are your social media conversations furthering your reach and expanding your audience
  • what metrics are other people using
  • understanding the value of conversation
  • understanding the value of social media in a ‘mixed media’ campaign
  • qualitative conversation monitoring
  • exposing and visualising the measures you do collect
  • the value inside the organisation…making bureacratic processes lest costly and painful
  • effective community management for consultation and participative processes
  • effective measures of crowd-sourcing data or policy
  • intrinsic rewards as an employee
  • impact on channel shift


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