In building a great integrated social media public awareness campaign, we afford a lot of time, effort and research to writing great email/web/poster/direct mail copy, designing images we wish to ‘go viral’ and developing landing pages we hope engage our reader. Like me, I’m sure you’re often asked after any social media endeavor, ‘Did it work?’ This can be particularly challenging for social media campaigns geared towards public awareness instead of solid goal conversions, like registration, donations or providing content. So how do we quantify success for awareness?

Personally, I like to look at two things: engagement – defined as taking some type of step within the platform, and action – going outside of the platform, most likely, to our website. You can take this a step further to how long they stay on your content (assuming, they are reading it if they are there longer) with, say, time on site, or how deep their visit goes into your other content with depth of visit. Obviously, if you have goals set up, you can see if these actions lead to goal conversion, repeat visits, or social shares. If someone is engaging with the content, I feel good about the effort, but if they take an action, I feel like the effort ‘worked.’ Remember that the effort compounds over time: getting out there in social channels with polished, well thought out content also elevates the channel as a means of communication in the eyes of your audience. The hope is that you’re building your reputation and that people will pay attention going forward. This is why we should be measuring organic social media traffic and how it aids in maintaining a high level of return visitors to our site as well as completed goals over time. One campaign does not a social media strategy make. 

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Then there’s the testing capability. Where did your audience engage the most? Where did they take the most action? You can research what worked for other institutions and guesstimate what could work, but until you begin creating for and utilizing integrated social media public awareness campaigns, you’ll not know what your audience will truly do. Then there are the tougher questions: did it not resonate because it was not ‘cool’ enough? Was the topic not clearly expressed? Was it just expensive noise? These questions are probably best answered over time through the above measurements as well as anecdotal evidence from key constituencies.

Awareness building takes time and is quantifiable but more than this it needs to be diligently and clearly expressed to all stakeholders. We need to be sure we set expectations of the outcome and report true measurements that reflect the campaign’s influence. Best practice would dictate that, as we create more content and more integrated campaigns, awareness will build. As long as our campaigns stay true to the overall brand positioning, we’ll be able to elevate them in a way that makes the most sense in the minds of our consumer.

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