Social Media for Global Health Wrap-Up: Measurement for Health

Allison Bland

CCP | Communications Specialist

The Social Media for Global Health working group met last week in Washington, DC, to hear from Beth Kanter, the go-to leader of social media for social change. As members of the group went around the room to introduce themselves, two things were clear: Beth’s persistent influence on social media users in the global health field and the group’s motivation to use social media effectively.

"If you can't fly..."

"If you can't fly then run, if you can't run then walk, if you can't walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward." - Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Beth launched into a presentation that asked the group to consider how data affects our organizations’ decision-making. From the discussion in the room, I observed that the group of communications professionals, project managers, and knowledge managers knew that social media metrics and web analytics were important, but we didn’t all feel like we could articulate how this data informed our performance.

Beth made a case for measurement as the road to an organization’s results. The tricky part is finding the best road to the right destination. Even if your organization’s social media use is in its earliest stages, though, you can set a benchmark, track two data points from the countless social media metrics available, and keep asking, “So what?” Measurement should inform all social media activities, including the number of hours people in your organization spend doing social media. The bumps along this road are important, too. Beth emphasized that failure always comes before dramatic success, and an organization with a low tolerance for failure has a low tolerance for learning. Keep moving forward, and embrace these failures as you move from confusion about measuring your social network to a strategy that incorporates data into decision-making.

I think several of Beth’s tactics can be applied to global health programs and projects, especially with an eye toward K4Health’s knowledge management perspective:

  • Social media at K4Health is closely related to the project’s mission to share knowledge and tools related to reproductive health and family planning.
  • K4Health also strives to build and maintain partnerships within the FP/RH arena. Social media provides opportunities to connect organizations and people, building K4Health’s network in a way that can help us collaborate more effectively.
  • Kanter's ladder of engagement tool maps out a user’s interactions with an organization and how they become progressively richer and more connected as the user moves from a newsletter subscriber to a social media follower to a donor to a volunteer. The ladder of engagement can be personalized for an organization depending on the actions they are looking for from their supporters.

How does your organization or project use data from its social networks? Do you think measurement can lead to improved results? The Social Media for Global Health group will be following up on this discussion on the online community of practice. Join the conversation.