Meaningful metrics illustrate your story

Not even sure how I stumbled on the GTEC blog but there I was reading Anna Bélanger’s response to Nick Charney about measuring the value of Social Media; all my favorite topics!

It’s true that quantifying the value of social media through meaningless metrics is a waste of time. But you still need to be able to demonstrate the value of whatever activities you undertake, whether you are trying to quantify the improvement or not.

It may not be through numbers; maybe words make more sense. Having some kind of data or quantitative numbers often helps to frame the context or imagine the scale of that impact.  But most numbers don’t add to the understanding of how, as Anna says, new tools were used “to improve collaboration and knowledge sharing across lines of business and to change the way they worked.”

However, we can express the “value” in terms of efficiency, effectiveness and satisfaction levels (of the public or employees) to help people understand why something ‘worked’ and therefore why we should keep doing it or adopt it as a best practice if it’s an example from another Department.

How about a story about an officer who has saved 2 hours a week now that documents are easily found in the document repository?  Personal anecdotes with quotes pulled from a survey or an e-mail can round out a realistic picture that everyone can identify with.  Use one stat to scale up that personal experience, for example, by multiplying the potential two hour savings by the number of potential employees using the tool.  For example, if everyone saved 2 hours a day, what’s the cost savings (could assume an average salary to estimate financial figures)?  Or what about the reduction in the length of time to prepare, edit and make Records of Decisions available to committee members?  What impact did that have?  Therein lies the crux of your story.

To measure satisfaction, check out the results from the Public Survey Employee Survey for quantitative data.  Being able to say 80% (or more) employees agree your organization is a great place to work is a concise story in a one-sentence statistic. Being at the top of a list of places to work would also help support the claim that people are satisfied with the way they get to work.

My favorite measure is effectiveness though.  We do our jobs for a reason – usually something to do with internal or external clients – and achieving those objectives will make for the most compelling reason to continue offering those services.

Here’s my case study for the how using social media has increased the effectiveness of how I am doing my job, Nick.

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About Laura

As a Business Analyst working for the Canadian federal government in Web usability, I have the opportunity to be a part of a growing movement of professionals implementing user-centered design principles.
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4 Responses to Meaningful metrics illustrate your story

  1. Zaphod62 says:

    Given what G.Paquet calls “quantophrenia” it might be useful if we realized that the numbers are just more or less usefully schematized patterns of anecdotes with all the “anecdote” parts washed away. The pictures can be clear or misleading not depending on whether the info is anecdotal, but depending on whether we have solicited and connected the right dots with our schematics (i.e., we thinking clearly and strategically) — and who knows what the evidence for that is?

  2. charles says:

    As everything needs tobe quantified to prove things, some marketing research firms come with models that quantify social media. Here is one :

    These models are interesting, they provide plenty of value. It is great to know the net promoter score, satisfaction… but they provide part of the picture and this part of the picture that is being provided can only measure part of the benefits. But this is a good post, the interest to measure these things will probably increase with time as we start to realize the impact of network in the “contagion” of behaviours.

  3. Laura says:

    Absolutely agree with you Zaphod62…Measurement doesn’t help the organization if it isn’t meaningful in your own context. Frameworks are meant to guide you in the discovery of your own measurement strategy. It isn’t something you do because you have to. Well, maybe it is, but if so, it won’t mean anything to you or anyone else that sees the data.

    I’ll tell you why I keep harping on about measurement – because we’re still erring on the side of not enough data, or not the right data, to make decisions. So, I’m trying to explore ways of doing it (right) that are helpful for both planning (decision-making, prioritizing) and evaluating activities (ROI, demonstrating value).

    Thanks for surfacing some more info for me by e-mail Charles, such as this one: .

    Marketing always seems more prescribed than the more intuitive approach taken by people who care about doing something they believe in. Maybe this is the same tension felt with any kind of measurement; why measure if we know it’s working, and does it matter ‘how much’ it’s working? (It probably does if someone else is paying the bills, unless they agree with your intuition.)

    Regarding measuring social media, my understanding and thoughts about this continue to evolve, with help from comments on this blog, at work, reading others blogs etc. There are so many different ways to evaluate success, we each need to find the way to tell our story that works for our organization.

    I love this presentation by Tara Hunt, who puts more of a focus on being customer-centric and trying to make them happy, then creating a social media strategy, which, like most things, is meaningless without context.

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