Evaluating Social Media: Step 5. Establish your baseline

In order to evaluate your results, you have to know your starting point. You will have to compare your baseline data with the new data you are going to gather as you progress toward your goal. You need exactly the kind of baseline data that will be able to show you whether your communications are working; and your goal and objectives will tell you what kind of information you need.

Looking at the goal and objective we discussed earlier, you would need data that tells you what you need to know about your network of supporters and your online community, and how engaged they are.

Many orchestras have detailed information from years of analyzing ticket sales data, audience surveys and of course Web site analytics programs. The League of American Orchestras and the National Endowment for the Arts have libraries of data as well. This data can help you in establishing your baseline, but remember; those numbers will need to be able to tell you something about your progress toward your goal and objectives. Use the data to answer questions such as:

  • What is the awareness of and attitude toward your organization (or classical music in general)?
  • What are some of the misconceptions and misinformation about your organization (or classical music in general)?
  • Where are other classical music and arts organizations? How do they compete for your audience and online attention?
  • How has your organization (or classical music in general) been presented in social media?
  • Who are the influencers/creators that support or oppose your organization or mission?

These questions remind me of Kami Huyse’s Triad of Measurement that I mentioned in my e-book. The three measurement elements include: interest (how interested are people in your organization/issue); attitude (what attitudes do people hold about your organization/issue); action (what actions do people take as a result of your communications).

Looking at the baseline data in marketing terms, you will need to establish your current Web site sales data (e.g. average order size, churn rate, acquisition cost etc.), Web site traffic data, and perhaps most importantly, part of those two elements, your conversion rate (e.g. how many people driven to your Web site by Facebook or Twitter ultimately buy a ticket, recording, or take some other defined commerce action).

Tomorrow, we’ll look at step six: posing your evaluation questions.

(Source: Are We There Yet? A Communications Evaluation Guide)