digital communicators: we are the change agents

Digital comms has a perfect way that it can demonstrate it's worth. They can help tranform services. That's a bit exciting.

by Kathy Kyle

Among the many topics discussed at this year’s Communications Camp (@commscamp | #commscamp13), the one that resonated most with me was how to best demonstrate the value of digital communications. If we can’t measure our impact as communicators, how can we influence and transform our organisations?

As a former Communications and Marketing Director in both the public and private sector, I found the most traction when I aligned communications performance metrics with customer service outcomes. In my central government agency roles, I ensured our communications approach focused on internal and external customers’ interests.

Regardless of whether I was working on an internal communications programme to engage employees or a multi-faceted, externally facing digital campaign to generate support for a new regulation, I measured our success by aligning our communications efforts to our mission and by focusing on shifting my audiences’ activities and behaviours: web impressions, media coverage, social media activity, survey responses, focus group outcomes and anecdotal feedback.

We were able to demonstrate the value of digital communications by aligning our strategy and performance metrics with the people we served – both internally and externally. If you are struggling to develop a comprehensive evaluation programme, or just want to demonstrate your value as a communicator, consider the following activities:

  • Build support internally with leadership and cross-functionally across the organisation
  • Drive your audience to online channels for accurate measurement of activities – measure whether you experience fewer calls and in-person visits due to your digital strategy.
  • Create content once and repurpose it (COPE model: Create Once Publish Everywhere)
  • Use the most effective, inexpensive and targeted communication channels that suit your audience. But don’t just use a social media tool because it is “free” – ensure your audience uses the channel. 3.2 billion people use email, over a billion use Facebook and over 500 million use Twitter (some analysts indicate 140m active users).

Should you care about how many Twitter followers your organisation has? Or “likes” on Facebook? Yes and no. How do you know those followers are really fans? Or even in your target population? It matters more if you reach your intended audience and change their behaviour about government services. According to a study conducted by LGiU, “a Facebook ‘fan’ or Twitter follower doesn’t necessarily capture the connection and lead to a direct, sustainable, two-way relationship with a resident.” I am not suggesting throwing the baby out with the bathwater – instead, focus on your mission (some form of government service) and the people you serve (your customers) and create a bespoke plan to reach them.

There isn’t an exact science to measuring communications success – but there are ways in which we can demonstrate our value. We must shift our role from press release writers to service delivery communicators, and then delivering results that matter to our customers. We are change agents.

Picture credit 

Kathy Kyle is a digital communications consultant at GovDelivery
kathy.kyle@govdelivery