Yesterday I spoke as part of a panel discussing social media measurement and analysis. I was joined by Scott Jones of IQ Solutions, Laura Zauderer-Baldwin, of CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities (NCBDDD), and moderated by Jana Thomas of Porter Novelli. Each discussed different aspects of social media measurement and analysis.
Scott spoke about how media events can be monitored to provide critical data to health professionals. These announcements, such as Selena Gomez having lupus, often drive major interest in these topic areas, as well as visits to government websites that address these topics. Agencies need to be prepared in advance for the surge in interest by implementing good web practices, such as search engine optimization. I found his example about how the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) used data to connect suicide to bullying particularly interesting. As a result of the data, the Agency put greater resources into an anti-bullying app for teens.
Laura spoke about her work with the NCBDDD to evaluate its social media architecture, and make changes based on the results. Laura discussed the Center’s efforts to create comprehensive dashboards that measure its reach, exposure, and engagement, which staff use to plan for future campaigns. She also spoke to the Center’s decision to transition from five Twitter accounts to one account that represents the entire Center. This decision—as you might expect—was challenging because the Center provides information on many different topics, and all will need to be represented in the one account. Unless you work on a public health topic that is narrow in focus (and lucky you!), this is something we all struggle with: trying to balance getting out all the messages that are important to our mission, while also taking into account what is interesting to our audiences.
This balancing act was discussed as part of my presentation, which focused on tactics for overcoming the decline in Facebook organic reach. Measurement is a critical part of this. You can use measurement to figure out what topic areas your audience finds most engaging, as well as which content types (e.g., fill in blanks). You can then use these as levers to increase your engagement on Facebook, which will in turn increase your reach. In addition to increasing engagement, I discussed three other tactics:
- Use paid media to promote or boost your posts to fans and other audiences;
- Diversify your social platforms, so you have other outlets to get out your message more directly to your fans; and
- Weigh the costs and benefits to Facebook participation. Evaluate whether you have the resources (both in staff time and a paid media budget) to effectively run a Facebook page.
There are several panels during NCHCMM focused on social media measurement or data, which speaks to the importance of this topic in health communications. It seems like we’re all looking for guidance on how to most effectively use the mountains of data available to measure our effectiveness; in particular, how social/digital strategies can affect behavior change (which was the topic of a feisty Q&A at the end of our session yesterday).
What do you find to be the most challenging part of measuring social media effectiveness?