Evaluating online engagement

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Michele Ide-Smith, a former local government digital specialist, writes about ways of approaching evaluation of digital engagement:

Local government has traditionally asked citizens for their opinions using surveys, public meetings, panels and focus groups. Many local authorities have dabbled with social media as a communication channel. Some central government departments and local authorities have experimented with social media as a means to engage citizens in a two-way conversation. But true online engagement of this nature requires significant resource to moderate comments, publish timely responses, collate comments and feed them consultation or decision making processes.

For social media to be taken seriously as a tool for engagement, to which resources  are allocated, Senior Managers will need to be convinced of its value. Which is where you need to start planning exactly how to measure the level, depth, quality and success of online engagement. Local authorities are used to reporting against KPIs and therefore familiar with quantitative statistics (often figures speak louder than words).

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