Adoption of social media by government agencies has been slow in part because measuring programmatic impact through the platforms is difficult. Social media offers multiple channels to promote voluntary government programs but program planners need to make sure they understand what can and cannot be measured on social media sites.
Consider three of the most widely-used platforms (Facebook, Twitter and You Tube) and the ways we can measure breadth, depth, direct engagement, loyalty and user experience.
- Breadth - size of your community and growth (Facebook likes, Twitter followers, YouTube subscribers)
- Depth – amount of traffic and number of click-throughs per day
- Direct engagement – questions answered through social media and response time
- Loyalty - percentage of repeat users
- User experience - positive, negative and neutral engagements; top hashtags and keywords
To discover what behavior changes among the on-line community resulted from program information dissemination would require more in-depth data collection: interviews, focus groups, questionnaires and surveys. For information about evaluations, NOAA’s Office of Education and Sustainable Development has a useful guide entitled “Designing Evaluation for Education Projects.” The University of Michigan also has helpful instructions in their program called My Environmental Education Evaluation Resource Assistant (MEERA). Check their page Plan an Evaluation for more information.