Kimberly N. Alleyne
The communications landscape is domineered and saturated by social and digital media, which makes realizing organic, sustained target audience engagement hard. There are approximately 1.4 million nonprofit organizations in the United States. Many of them struggle with finding strategies to realize audience engagement. Engagement among nonprofit target audiences is particularly is hard to spark and measure because of limited human and financial resources. Compounding these challenges is that nonprofit communicators often find themselves competing for their audiences’ attention in a environment where they are bombarded by messages from multiple communication channels.
An additional problem is determining how to measure audience engagement as a strategy to inform subsequent communication strategies, to know what’s working and what isn’t.
No doubt engagement is hard, but spending the time to find the right formula is never wasted. The right engagement recipe can potentially bring several payoffs:
- Increase of an organization’s brand reach;
- Increased attendance at organizational events;
- Increase in volunteerism;
- Increase in donations/philanthropic support; and
- Increase in number of organizational stakeholders and partners.
The road to engagement is rocky. However, using adequate and consistent measurements to determine the effectiveness of communications, and take the pulse of an audience’s engagement level is non-negotiable. A well-rounded communications strategy includes thoughtful measurement from ongoing observation of audiences’ responses to communications.
Determining how and what to measure can be daunting, but there are effective tools to inform communication and audience engagement strategies. Here are four:
- Activity Metrics — Activity metrics can help you better understand what you’re doing to implement your communications strategy. Activity metrics also help to evaluate your process of content production and delivery, and if you’re sticking to the work plan.
- Reach Metrics — Reach metrics help you understand the size of your audience and whether your messages are appropriate for your audience. They paint a picture of who is listening to your messages.
- Engagement Metrics — Engagement metrics tell you how effective your messages because they show you how and when your audience engages you with you. Calls-to-action are a huge part of engagement metrics; messaging must be action-oriented to adequately measure engagement.
- Impact Metrics — Impacts metrics help you measure whether you are actually achieving the goal(s) you set. These are the metrics that tell you if there is has been behavior change among your audience members, and the actions your members make after hearing your messages. Just as with engagement metrics, calls-to-action are also an important component here.
When all of these metrics are used in concert you should get a fairly compelling story about just how interested your audience is, and whether your messaging is meeting their needs and interests. Find out what they want and give it to them so they’ll keep coming back.