Advocacy groups today have an unprecedented ability to continuously monitor and adjust campaigns in real time to focus and motivate supporters. This ability stems, not from the simple availability of real-time digital communication tools, but from the ability to dynamically evaluate each advocate engagement and tweak campaign strategies and messaging based on the success or failure of those engagements. Each engagement platform generates a basic set of baseline reports, but that data is just a peek in the window compared with the full range of what is available. Every digital campaign possesses its unique, mission-critical characteristics and the real-time data collected and analyzed in support of a campaign should be customized with the campaign goals in mind. The analytics must be relevant and centered on the campaign’s particular audience and advocacy goals. For advocacy success, real-time campaign analytics need to hone in quickly on three key metrics:
- Demographics: Where is your target audience engaged? Data from Nielsen and Pew Research Center both point to the same conclusion: Most Americans are active online. It’s becoming easier to find them there, too. Facebook, for example, has recently developed a tool to target ad audiences by gender, life-stage, location, education, occupation, and interests, among many other characteristics. Effective campaign-audience targeting, however, incorporates behavioral data across a broad range of platforms. For example, mothers of school-aged children have become a highly active cohort of the blogosphere and can be more effectively recruited as advocates with a campaign that reaches them on relevant blogging platforms as well as on the other social platforms where they are engaged. Multiple touches are key and require refined analytics.
- Timing: When is your target audience engaged? Several recent studies (e.g. Buddy Media, June 2012, and Bit.ly, May 2012) have highlighted the importance of timing for social media communications. Peak times vary by platform as well as by demographic cohort. Habits of some cohorts may be easier to pin down than others. For example, in a recent campaign we undertook focused on engaging Pediatricians, we found that messages delivered across several platforms performed exceptionally well late at night.
- Resonance: How is your target audience engaged? Once you’ve figured out where and when your audience is engaged, you need to understand what motivates them. Tracking the type of content that generally engages them is a starting point. Incorporating your own messaging into that content stream is the next step, but continually folding in the data generated by successful (and unsuccessful) engagements informs and focuses future messaging and interactions. Your messaging must be balanced to connect with both the right-brain (intuition, emotion) and the left-brain (logical, analytical, objective) of your advocates to motivate meaningful action.
At its most sophisticated, campaign analysis recognizes the complex interplay among these data streams. For example, imagine you’ve launched some new messaging that everyone on your team was sure would be a strong motivator to recruit new advocates to your campaign. Instead, the messaging appeared to fizzle. Meanwhile, an apparently weaker message seems to be getting some traction. Why? Perhaps your team misread your audience – a resonance failure. Or perhaps your weaker message simply made it to the right platform at the right time. Scrapping the new messaging could be a costly mistake if your timing was simply off, but if resonance was the problem, persisting with the new messaging may be a waste of resources. Now take the same example a level deeper. After studying the appropriate analytics, you’ve determined your problem was timing. Based on that information you’ve re-launched your new messaging and it’s been a rousing success. You’ve engaged thousands of new advocates. In doing so, you’ve also changed the nature of where, when and how they engage with you. Ideally, they are now congregating and engaging on a platform of your choosing, where you can closely monitor when they are most active. You’ve forged a relationship, and now it must be managed. Advocate relationship management requires yet another set of data streams, another set of analytics, all centered on reaching your organization key performance indicators — or KPIs. Just as simply building a website does not ensure site traffic, simply recruiting advocates does not ensure ongoing advocacy success. The most sophisticated advocacy organizations have a carefully planned engagement calendar in place before launching their initial recruitment efforts.
The good news for advocacy organizations is that social media and digital communications platforms are rapidly responding to a need for more precisely refined data. As they seek to better define their own market value in the mediascape, these platforms are developing a keener understanding of the data and tools advocacy groups — and brand marketers in general — require to achieve their campaign goals. Propriety tools such as DominionIntelligence™, DominionConnect™ and The Opinion Leader Network™ translate that data into the campaign-tailored, actionable analytics advocacy groups need. The end result is an array of powerful new tools to motivate supporters, build issue-awareness and make meaningful real-world change.