Agreeing on how you are going to measure your community engagement activities and results is of primary importance before commencing any activities.
There are lots of articles out there about how to measure your online community through looking at metrics such as followers, growth and sharing – here we talk about the more complex picture of measuring how effective your entire community engagement strategy is.
Hard data is easy to quantify, making an assessment of your digital engagement activities relatively simple. Measurement often becomes more difficult when looking at your qualitative data and any factors that are open to interpretation.
As an organisation, the first step is to benchmark what successful community engagement looks like for you. This is unique to your organisation, project and your community demographics. 10 people providing insightful and meaningful feedback may be better than 1000 votes on a poll or vice versa. Having a clear vision or objective for your engagement activities guides you to how you will measure your success.
Here are our top 10 ways to measure community engagement:
- Visibility / Reach – this is all about how visible your engagement is. What are the opportunities for someone to see or hear about your project? E.g. banners in X locations, radio ads, social media posts, appearing in the media etc. Advertising firms use metrics like OTS (opportunities-to-see) to quantify this visibility but you could simply list out all your promotional efforts so you can then tally these up against direct conversions or registrations (where possible). To be clear about which methods work for you – use specific codes or URLs for each different activity to help with clear measurement or ask attendees or registrants where they heard about it.
- Conversion – This is about how many people you converted from all your efforts in visibility into the action you want them to take e.g. messaging via Facebook, clicking your website link, clicking on your email (CTR) or completing a survey. Often this is displayed as a percentage of total activity e.g. if 14 out of 100 people completed the survey at your exhibition then your conversion rate is 14%. Your conversion rate normally depends on how engaged your audience is, for example, conversion rates are generally relatively low for high-volume digital promotion unless your audience is primed and ready to engage.
- Registrations – For most community engagement, you need your community to register to participate. This not only validates your data but also gives you avenues for further communication and to feedback on the issue you’re consulting on. On your Engagement Hub platform, your public projects are visible so viewers can read information but can’t participate unless registered. Measuring how many registrations you receive during your engagement period is a great way of assessing your engagement success. Tailoring your registration process to gather more information allows for more segmentation in your data and communication so don’t miss this opportunity to quickly find out more about your audience. For example, your Engagement Hub registration form is completely customisable so you can add questions about demographics, interests or habits to build a more complete picture of your audience.
- Activity – This is the most classic way to measure engagement – how many surveys were completed, how many pins and comments on a map etc but it can also encompass how active your citizen jury or focus group was and how many decisions were made. Make this really specific to your project or engagement and create multiple points to measure.
- Depth – Depth of engagement is probably one of the hardest to gauge and goes much deeper than follower numbers or website visitors. On your website using Google Analytics, you can see the behaviour through the site noting how users journey through from one page to another and where they exited. On your Engagement Hub platform, there are a host of analytics you can use to gauge depth of engagement. Under project statistics, you can clearly see all activity across your project but can also look at page views, item downloads and generally the level of awareness – informed, engaged etc.
- UGC or User-Generated Content – A truly engaged audience will want to share their thoughts and ideas and talk about it, so this is a really useful way of tracking just how engaged your audience is. On social media, you can see your engagement statistics and how many of your posts are shared or you can use Google Alerts to show you where you are getting mentions. In terms of consultation, you could measure how many ideas your audience came up with at an in-person event or on your online ‘Ideas Wall’ in your Engagement Hub platform.
- Sentiment – For some, this can simply be ‘positive or negative’ but that’s a lot of grey area not talked about! Sentiment is a tricky element to analyse and although some software programs can be helpful in this, a knowledgeable human eye is still preferable. Grouping similar sentiments in comments and feedback and using examples in your report allows you to quantify your qualitative without losing the human element. To help with this, your Engagement Hub platform’s unique Tagging tool can help you directly and automatically measure sentiment.
- Retention – For digital methods, you could quantify this by how long someone stays on your website (average session length) or on your engagement platform you could look at the length of membership or help people stay engaged by using the ‘Follow this project feature’ so they can receive automatic notifications of any updates to the project. For a physical exhibition, you can measure how long people stayed on average. This is quite project-specific but finding some way to measure the length of time they are engaging with you is helpful in building a picture of your engagement success.
- Queries – Communication is a two-way street and you know your project inside out, but your audience likely doesn’t. Keeping a track of how many queries you get on your project or engagement can help you see any areas that aren’t clear, need more explanation or need improvement.
- Moderation – Measuring how much moderation is needed during your engagement may not be a success metric, but it is useful in resourcing future projects. It’s likely representative of how controversial the subject of your engagement is but it’s also important for transparency to have a record of any moderation needed, users blocked and communication on the issues.
For every action or consultation method, decide how you are going to collate the feedback BEFORE you start. For example, if you run a focus group are you going to record and transcribe it before pulling out key themes. For social media, what metric are you using to measure community involvement, reach and engagement?
If you’re using online engagement software like Engagement Hub, what’s most important for you to measure – registrations, surveys completed or the amount of engagement on an interactive map?
View our demo site today to see how easy it is to engage your audience and download an instant report with all your data or book a no-obligation software demonstration with one of our Engagement Specialists to see how your system can be directly tailored to your engagement needs.
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