Which metrics are best ones to use when evaluating general performance in social media for public sector orgs?

Click for larger version (ideal for cut+paste into presentations!)

Matt Navarra asks:

There are so many metrics online to measure in terms of Social Media e.g. Likes, Followers, Shares, Clicks, Comments, and many many more. Which ones are the essential ones to track and report on, and what sort of scores whould be considered a success on an account?

In some ways, digital channels offer all kinds of measures and it’s easy to get bogged down in them. Coming up with sensible measures of success depends on what your project is aiming to do – for example, is the primary goal to generate buzz, to get useful input, or to stimulate a community to change its behaviour? Or is it none of those – and just about helping an individual to listen and become more connected to the debate about their work that’s happening online?

Measuring helps you do four things:

  • Track progress towards these kinds of goals
  • Compare different approaches/tools/content
  • Assess value of activity, in terms of time and resource devoted to it
  • Kill failure quickly when things don’t work

So it may be worth stepping back and thinking about the types of measures you’ll find useful in doing those things, rather than the specific metrics. You might find it helpful to have:

  • Trends: how quickly do things grow/change?
  • Journeys: where does the community go/what do they do next?
  • High & low stories: which things worked great, which badly, and why?
  • Surprises: why did that weird thing happen?

It’s worth remembering that cause and effect can be tricky to assess sometimes, and that numbers of likes or retweets often won’t tell you one of the most important things of all: who took part, whether they were they were the ‘right’ people, and what they were thinking when they did. So aim to combine metrics or KPIs you set with some qualitative analysis of who did what (and whether it actually helped anyone) – click the image above for a larger version with some ideas on different qualitative and quantitative metrics you might look at.

Incidentally, this post by Michele Ide-Smith is useful on KPI-setting.

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