Measuring Social Media Impact

Any kind of resource deployment in one area of the city affects resources (and thus crime) in another, so constant measurement is required to ensure police aren't spread too thin and the public's quality of life isn't diminished (or if those are the...

From goals come measurable objectives

You should be measuring community relations at least to some extent: positive and negative mentions in the press, complaints against officers vs. praise, the numbers of people (including officers) showing up at Neighborhood Watch meetings from month to month, and so on.

Social media complicates this because of the sheer number of channels available, which is one reason why last month's column recommended starting with one single problem. So, say you're focusing on education as your goal: you want more people to know the facts about the cybercrimes they're reporting, and you want them to know how to protect themselves.

Your measurable objectives might be:

-        More people within certain demographic groups educated.

-        More positive interactions among people in those groups.

-        More resource materials provided to people to self-educate.

Your strategies for those would include a mix of traditional and social media, face-to-face meetings and possible door-to-door campaigns, and so forth.

What to measure?

Say you want to educate teens, the elderly, and small business owners, with media as a secondary target group. You're using the social channels you know they're on, so you measure:

-        Number of Twitter followers, Facebook fans, and so forth; their growth rates over time.

-        Number of likes and favorites of your resource materials.

-        Number of shares, including YouTube embeds.

-        Number of downloads of your resource materials.

-        Website traffic, including page views, time on site, new vs. old visits, and referring sites and searches.

-        Number of interactions online, including blog comments.

-        Sentiment of online interactions, and the changes over time.

-        Subscriptions to your blog or YouTube channel.

-        Reach, and impressions.

-        Media value.

-        Influence of community members you're reaching.

You would also want to compare numbers over time, benchmarking the number of calls for service you get about cybercrime just prior to the start of your education campaign, and at regular intervals as your campaign moves forward.

This is by no means a comprehensive list, and tools exist to help you track these metrics. So don't be overwhelmed; focus instead on solving the problem. Once you know what it is you want to accomplish, it should be possible for you to figure out what you (and your commanders and politicians) need to know about your efforts. Like any good policing program, a social media presence should be data-driven, and you may even find over time that your metrics will help you secure more resources: grant money, or more personnel.

What are you doing to measure your presence online? Leave a comment!


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