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Monitoring and Evaluating our Communication Channels

Communications Channel Assessment When it comes to social media, how do you measure and monitor your reach? It’s a tough question, and one we often ask ourselves at AIDS.gov. Across our communication channels (the AIDS.gov website, blog, Twitter Exit Disclaimer, Facebook Exit Disclaimer, YouTube, Exit Disclaimer mobile, and more), we strive to provide quality information about the federal government and HIV/AIDS on a consistent basis. In addition to the content that we share, we also focus on listening to what you have to say, and measure your engagement as best we can.

In order to provide an at-a-glance summary of all of this information, our team compiles an internal Communications Channel Assessment report that gives a 6-month snapshot of activity and user feedback across these channels. You can view the internal report here (PDF 1.3 MB).

We compile the data used in this report on a weekly and monthly basis by listening and monitoring across all of our channels. Some of this is done manually, and other data we’re able to compile using Google Analytics Exit Disclaimer, a free tool. In-line with our Communications Strategy, this report helps tell us how we’re doing, how we compared with the last six-month period, and areas where we might reassess our strategy.

We also identify patterns of engagement across channels. Since much of our content is re-purposed and packaged across channels (for example, we promote each AIDS.gov blog post via Twitter, Facebook, or other channels if appropriate), we are curious if certain content triggers different types of interaction in different channels. Did the content we put out for National HIV Testing Day (June 27) cause a surge in website traffic, retweets, likes, etc.? Is our audience engaged, leaving a blog comment or a Facebook like or comment?

June 5, 2011 marked 30 years of AIDS in the United States. In preparation for that day, we published 8 original blog posts, tweeted/retweeted, posted to Facebook at least daily, and featured a White House Facebook video chat Exit Disclaimer on our YouTube page. As a result of this increased content released and cross-promoted across channels, along with the timeliness and public interest in 30 years of AIDS, we saw a 29% increase in blog traffic (compared to the previous week),  36% increase in Twitter followers, 16% increase in new Facebook likes, and 74% increase in YouTube views. In addition to these numbers, we saw more comments from you about your thoughts on 30 years of AIDS. From this we’ve learned that one piece of content can go a long way, that promotion is essential to get the word out to our audience, and that our audience is likely to engage more when given a notable topic/occasion and the opportunity to have their voice heard.

Here are some takeaways from the January-June 2011 period, in the latest report (compared with the previous six-month period):

  • Blog content and total visits increased about 10%
  • Twitter followers increased by 75%
  • Facebook likes increased by 30%
  • We produced fewer YouTube videos and podcasts this period, but gained subscribers and listeners
  • Website views increased by 20%
  • The search terms “AIDS” and “What is HIV/AIDS” were the most popular traffic sources to get to AIDS.gov
  • We’ve just begun to evaluate Foursquare and mobile, our newest communication channels. Mobile users are accessing m.aids.gov about 50/50 between Apple iOS and Android platforms.

Our communications channels are valuable tools to disseminate information and engage with the HIV community. Monitoring and evaluation provides insight into how and if we’re achieving this.

How do you measure social media over time? What defines success for you? What are your tips on content or audience engagement? Please share in a blog comment.

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