Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube are among the most popular platforms that government organizations use to communicate with the public and we know they help us achieve our organization's goals. The benefits of social media are well-documented, including enhanced community engagement, opportunities for professional networking, receiving citizen feedback on programs and services, and achievement of organizational goals, to name a few. But how do you know if you are actually achieving your goals through your social media?
Having an effective social media strategy not only means having clear goals for the content you share, but also a plan to assess whether or not that content is getting you the results you desire. For example, do you want your followers to share information, visit your website, engage in a conversation, or consume information? By focusing on the desired behaviors and using the analytic tools embedded in your social sites, you can determine if your social strategy is working.
The following goals are common to most public organizations who are using social media, and the metrics give insight into the achievement of those goals. By considering key questions and using analytic tools, you can determine if your content is doing its job.
Key questions to ask: How often do my followers share content with others? Which type of information is shared most frequently?
How to measure: Within the Twitter Analytics Tool you can see a 28-day summary for your account and can look for specific tweets in the Tweets section and assess the impact of those posts that were intended to be shared. Within Facebook Insights in the Posts tab, the Engagement Rate is broken down into two measures; post clicks and reactions, comments, and shares. By clicking on a specific post, you can receive a breakdown of those metrics. Within YouTube, the Analytics Engagement Reports you can find a Sharing report that gives insights into your videos’ performance.
Key questions to ask: How many people are coming to my website from a social account? How many new visitors are visiting my site?
How to measure. To answer this question you need to have Google Analytics installed onto your website. Use the Acquisition Reports for Social Traffic to identify the social source and the Audience Behavior Report to delineate between new and returning users.
Engaged in a Topic
Key question to ask: How many people are commenting, reacting to, or providing feedback on a topic?
How to measure: Within Facebook Insights in the Posts tab, go to post clicks and reactions, comments, and shares and select the post and find the reactions (i.e. Like, Love, Sad) and the view the number of comments. On Twitter, select the Tweets and Replies tab to see the number of times people replied to your Tweets. In all cases, you will want to monitor comments directly to assess sentiment about a topic or issue.
Key questions to ask: How many new pageviews did my website receive? How many downloads were there from my website or social page? How many post clicks or pageviews is my organization receiving? How many people are viewing my videos?
How to measure: Within Facebook Insights, Post Reach and the Reach Tab can help you determine consumption and within Twitter, Tweet Impressions will show the number of people that have seen your Tweet. Google Analytics can help you determine how many times a document is downloaded and the number and length of page views your website is receiving. Within YouTube, the Watch Time Reports can help you determine if a video is being watched, by whom, and the demographics of the audience.
This past year, Instagram Insights was rolled out for business accounts, but not personal accounts. However, even with a personal account you can still collect some data. lf your organization's Facebook page is linked with your Instagram account, you can see an overview of your posts’ performance including demographic information about your audience.
You should keep in mind that you can impact the above results simply by crafting your content in a specific way. For example, you can make social sharing easier and more obvious for your readers by asking people to share or retweet your content and by having share widgets on your website. Using call-to-action phrases and images such as “download now” or “respond today” directs the behavior your desire from your community members. Yet, the best way to make sure that your social strategy is working the way you want it to is regularly assess your content and keep it fresh by adjusting it to meet your follower’s needs.
Tricia S. Nolfi is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.