Beyond Outputs: Evaluating social media for outcomes

K4Health Highlights

Rebecca Shore

CCP | Program Officer II

Recently the Global Health Knowledge Collaborative (GHKC) brought together about 200 knowledge management (KM) professionals working in international development to share KM tools and ideas. The Global Health Knowledge Management Share Fair: Challenges and Opportunities had a variety of breakout sessions focusing on different KM interventions such as Net-Map, communities of practice (CoPs), blended learning, social media measurement, and many others.

I moderated a session called Measuring more than “Likes” and “Follows”: Maximizing the potential of social media for KM. This session broke into small, facilitated discussion groups that focused on five concepts around social media measurement. These small group facilitators and topics were:

Knowledge Wall - Social Media

A portion of the Global Health Knowledge Management Share Fair: Challenges and Opportunities Knowledge Wall focusing on social media.

  • Connecting Strategy with Evaluation: How to create accurate SMART objectives – Alexandra Bornkessel, Manager of Digital Strategy at RTI International;
  • The Established Presence: How to maintain it, grow it and show it – Leah Gordon, Knowledge Management Specialist and Public Information Officer, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, MEASURE Evaluation;
  • Let the Platform Chose You: Discussion on the best social media platform for your organization/project centered around how to manage expectations and show results – Ricki McCarroll, Digital Account Executive at Spectrum;
  • From Vanity Metrics to Effective Metrics looked at performance indicators instead of easy or vanity indicators – John Zoltner, Director of the TechLab at FHI 360; and
  • What The Hoot?: Using tools and social media management systems to measure effectiveness – Rebecca Shore, Communication Specialist at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Center for Communication Programs.

The overall theme of the session was to look towards the next steps of social media, taking a useful social networking platform to make real change and measuring that impact. This session brought intelligent minds to brainstorm on the best ways to move forward with social media.

During From Vanity Metrics to Effective Metrics, the idea of A/B testing was discussed. This is where you come up with two different messages and see which one is more effective or achieves your given objective. For example, if your goal is to get people engaged, you would see which ad gets people to participate or talk. These types of metrics and measurement ideas take social media one step to not only learn how to achieve better goals, but to improve social media practice.

Throughout my small group discussion, What The Hoot?, different tools were discussed that could help an organization achieve their given objectives. Some of these tools were specific to social media management such as HootsuiteSproutSocialSocial BroGoogle AnalyticsBit.ly, and Adobe Social, whereas other tools were more general such as basic editorial calendars or simple spreadsheets. We spoke about benefits and challenges to each tool, and the importance of identifying proper objectives and metrics before investing in a possibly expensive, but effective tool.

The Established Presence small group discussion got great feedback when facilitator Leah Gordon asked, “How do you maintain an established presence?” Respondents agreed that keeping to your communications strategy, engaging with users, and creating an online community were key to maintaining this established presence. Discussions stayed in the “maintain it and grow it” portion of the small group and did not get much further due to time restrictions. To read more, check out The Established Presence: How to maintain it, grow it, and show it!

Final thoughts of the whole group were about translating metrics and objectives to other areas of your communications strategy or even project goals in general. One participant noted that taking cues from social media to inform the building of your website or creating offline events is the next step for social media. The overall integration into the large project/organization goals will take social media from just a tool to an intricate part of the particular intervention.

Do you have insight into taking social media to the next level of international health? Share your view below.