I’ve got all this data, now what?
The good news about being a communicator is that there are so many ways to collect all kinds of data these days. The bad news … if you collect it, you’ve got to do something with it. Often times, we end up with that sinking feeling and we say to ourselves, “What did I just do?!” It can be overwhelming to say the least.
Collecting numbers is not good enough. If we can’t do anything with them, what’s the point? You need a measurement strategy and the best way to figure out what it should be is to start with you. A definition of your purpose as a communicator, and your communications team – this will become your Communication Manifesto. What is your professional purpose of being? This is a good question, and one that is often not even asked, let alone answered. But, once you do, it will help you in so many ways:
- It will set the stage within your organization so you can start transforming your role from an order taker just churning out content according to requests, to a strategic counselor.
- You can use your Manifesto as a tool to work with your internal clients to help them understand what content you are looking for.
- It sets the foundation for your measurement strategy.
Questions to Ask
So, where do you start? Answer the following questions, the more specific you are, the better:
- As a communicator in your organization, what does success look like to you?
- What do you want your audiences to know, do and feel after seeing your content?
- What are one to three areas in your organization where communications can make a difference and help move the needle?
- What do you want communications in your organization to look like five years from now?
A great example comes from a utility in Canada. One of the communicators there defined her team’s Manifesto as:
- All of our content needs to directly tie to one of our four strategic priorities.
- All of our content will feature the voice of an employee closest to the work.
- Our visuals and graphics mean just as much as the words in our stories.
The reason I love this Manifesto is that it’s so simple, really. It doesn’t have to be complicated. But, you do have to push yourself – and others – to follow it. From there, you can start thinking about what questions you need to ask to find out if you’re successful or not in fulfilling your Manifesto. Voila! You’ve got yourself a measurement strategy.
What to Measure
For example, looking at the Manifesto above, I would want to have questions in place measuring the following points:
- Employee knowledge and perceptions around the strategic priorities. Do they understand the business? Do they understand what needs to happen and why?
- Employee ability to understand how their specific role contributes to the success of the organization as a whole.
- Employee level of feeling connected to their coworkers across the organization.
You can then think about any existing surveys sent out to employees (an engagement survey, for example) and identify any questions on the survey that will help you figure out these points.
Then, make a list of the questions that are not found on any other survey and identify when is the best time to ask those questions. Do you need a separate communication survey? Can you use some of the questions as a quick poll or quiz on your intranet?
Are there any current findings in place where you’d like to find out the ‘why’ behind the numbers? Are any of these questions better asked in person in the form of focus groups or one-on-one interviews?
Next, take a look at the metrics around your content that might be available to you, and follow the same steps. Which metrics can help you see what’s working and what’s not?
Are there views or shares you can track around the content you published about the strategic priorities? Can you put together a sentiment analysis where you look at any user-generated content, ratings or comments and categorize them by positive, negative or neutral?
By creating questions around knowledge points and perceptions along with metrics, you’re combining behaviors and metrics – giving you a more complete, more powerful, picture of whether or not you’re successful in your communication efforts.
But, without your Communication Manifesto, it’s hard to understand what data you need to pay attention to and it’s easy to miss an opportunity to collect more.
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