The digital and online worlds offer government leaders new opportunities to measure citizen and stakeholder engagement and the effectiveness of their programs. Unfortunately, that same ability to measure many new things can create a glut of data that leaves leaders at a loss for what is important. At Corner Alliance, we recommend a three-step strategy for government leaders looking to measure their digital strategies more effectively. 1. Link your measures to strategic priorities
One of the real benefits of the online world is the ability to track and measure. This was much harder in the offline world and led to the famous quote from the department store pioneer John Wanamaker, “Half my advertising is wasted, I just don’t know which half.” Using the tools available, federal managers can now bring new data about what citizens and stakeholders are engaging with to the table.
But what are the most important measures for the content you are creating: Is it shares? Retweets? Or how many times a Facebook post is liked? Is it engagement indicated by how much time a unique user spends reading a piece of content? Is it the bounce rate for a webpage? The number of people signing up for a webinar you offer or is the profile or background of those people more important?
These are all legitimate measures but you need to connect them to a strategic objective. If your program or agency is prioritizing a webinar, then you might measure how effectively a tweet or a blog post converts stakeholders to your webinar. If, for instance, you are looking to broaden public knowledge about how to respond to a tornado warning, then social media shares and webpage visitors might be more relevant. Or you could decide to include time on your page as a factor that might indicate more deep reading and engagement with your content.
2. Implement a few key measurement tools
Once you know what you want to measure, you’ll need to implement some of the multitude of tools out there to help you gather and analyze the data. The list of potential tools is daunting. Social Media Examiner writes blogs like this: 50 Top Tools for Social Media. Mind you, those are only the “top” tools. It’s difficult to find your way through the deluge of options and more arrive on the scene each day.
I’d suggest prioritizing just two types and focusing on getting access to the data they provide. First is Google Analytics. This simple and free tool gives you tons of data about your webpage: the number of unique visitors, time on page, bounce rate, and where your visitors are coming to your site from (social media, organic search, etc.). Anyone with a webpage can access it.
Second, I’d recommend a social media posting tool like Buffer, SproutSocial, or Hootsuite. There are free versions of Buffer and Hootsuite but to get access to the best analytics and capabilities, you’ll need to pay anywhere from $10-$100 per month. These tools will help you post to multiple social media networks and then analyze how many people tweet, like, or otherwise engage with you content. You might also want to look at a tool like SumAll. It is currently free and provides a single dashboard view of all your different social media platforms.
There are many other tools out there but these two should be enough to get you started and a long way down the track.
3. Experiment and adjust
No matter what tools you implement to measure digital government, you’ll need to try different approaches and adjust based on results. For example, we continually experiment with posting to social media at different times of the day or week. We just began a video seriesbased on our blogs to see whether that changed or increased engagement. We continuously tweak blog titles to see which get the most interest and we jump on top of anything that results in conversions to our newsletter, which is a key priority for us. You’ll need to conduct similar experiments and tweaks. No one ever starts out with the exact right plan.
Your agency or program needs to start thinking about a digital measurement strategy. In a limited resource environment, this type of data can help you stand out from the pack. It will also help you fine-tune the services and content you provide to your customers and stakeholders.
What types of measurement strategies do you employ?