FutureGov feat. Measurement Camp

Today I attended the FutureGov meets Measurement Camp session held at Edelman in Victoria. It was a mix of some of the usual (and always pleasant to see) faces and a lot of faces I didn’t recognise – always a bonus! And Edelman provided a pleasant space and plenty of tea and coffee to keep us going.

The first 2/3 of the afternoon was a mix of talks given by Dominic Campbell of FutureGov, Will McInnis of Nixon McInnes, Steph Gray of BIS and Ingrid Koelher of IDeA. There were also the obligatory sponsorship presentations by Lithium showing off their Social CRM suite and Brandwatch who gave an interesting intro to their Council Monitor beta. Certainly I could see the nodding heads of interest from several Local Authorities who were present.

The final third broke down into small barcamp-like spontaneous sessions on such subjects as ‘How to get senior management buy-in’ and ‘Internal comms’. I wandered about and listened to some of the sessions before heading off for the day.

The idea of measurement of social media and Government digital engagement is an interesting one. One participant from a Local Authority said to me they hadn’t considered measurement – they were so focussed on how to implement digital engagement that they hadn’t gotten as far as how to measure it.

Thinking about my days of FMCG campaign work, I can’t help but think how can you develop a campaign without knowing if it’s for building awareness or increasing acquisition? How can you not have a set of targets in mind to report back on the success – or failure – of a campaign?

But social media isn’t really like a campaign, is it? It’s about building relationships (which campaigns should be but are often too short in tenure to really achieve anything so complex as a relationship). That’s why we talk about measuring social perception and reputation. Believing there are some simple truths, Will McInnes made an interesting point that we cannot discount academics. There is, after all, a great deal of historical rigour in research techniques that should be leveraged in our work in analysing the impact and effects of social media.

It’s easy when you work in digital to think that we are inventing everything for the first time. But in fact, apart from the medium, we are actually talking about how people communicate with one another, engage with brands and react to content and products. Historical techniques give us not only a good starting point, but also a good foundation of research theory that can teach us how to interpret the effects of our efforts – and set and measure the metrics of success and failure.

I think part of the issue is not so much with developing research models, but more of understanding how to use existing ones and develop tracking technologies that give us useful and useable research data that will help us to understand the effectiveness of our social media work. I think more thought needs to be given to what data we need to collect and then reverse engineer technology to give us the data we need to understand effectiveness.

I also couldn’t help but think – as the sponsors were presenting – about how today measuring reputation and perception is not just a brand thing – not in the traditional sense of a brand as a company. It’s as much an individual thing. There were certainly people in the room who are their own brands in the social media space.

Measuring one’s personal brand, while inherently narcissistic, is also a gauge of a new social era, where individuals can rise above the crowd while hiding behind a keyboard, creating a measurable reputation and perception wholly independent of those they work for – but which can enhance or detract from the reputation and perception of those they work for. It creates a new social dynamic and certainly a new set of issues for companies and organisations who spend a great deal of effort and money to manage their brands.

I’m looking forward to seeing more about some of the tools shown today and hearing about how people take what they heard back into their organisations. I think some of these event mash-ups are a great idea and hope to see more of them this year. I certainly think some public/private sector event mash-ups would give everyone a lot more to think about.

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