Evaluating Social Media Efforts: One Approach to Consider

When implemented effectively, social media strategies—that is, online technologies that facilitate interaction with audience members, such as Facebook and Twitter—can be an important component of a comprehensive communication plan. In particular, they can also be a useful tool in environmental change efforts. Social media may be effective as a channel for using commercial marketing techniques to change behavior, also known as social marketing. However, evaluating social marketing strategies that rely on social media can be challenging.

Start by considering the specific outcomes you want your strategies to accomplish when evaluating social media efforts within the context of a larger behavioral health-change strategy.

  1. Develop clear and quantifiable social media goals and objectives.
  2. Arrange these according to four basic outcome domains—exposure, engagement, influence, and results. Each of these builds on one another and can be achieved to varying degrees with different social media channels.
  3. Use existing social media analytic tools (available online) to measure the degree to which your goals relative to each domain are being met

Outcome Domain

  Exposure Engagement Influence Results
Type of Outcome
  • How many people are seeing your message?
  • What is your reach?
  • How many people responded to your message, took some type of action, or engaged in some type of interaction?
  • How is your message being received by others, and should you tweak it?
  • Do people care about your message?

This is a quantitative measure that builds on exposure and engagement.

  • Are your social media efforts directly meeting your social media/ prevention goals and objectives (policy change, behavior change, increased awareness of prevention issues)?
  • Number of Facebook fans, Facebook friends, Twitter followers, LinkedIn connections or YouTube subscribers
  • Number of online newsletter subscribers
  • Number of website hits
  • Number of times a video is viewed
  • Number of re-tweets, shares, and re-posts— and how many people each of those actions reached
  1. Low engagement: One-way communication, where followers, fans, or friends might simply have read the message
  2. Medium engagement: Two-way communication, where followers, fans, or friends responded in some way to the message (“liked”, commented, shared, @replied, or retweeted)
  3. High engagement: Two-way communication, where followers, fans, or friends not only responded, but also provided feedback, took action, and/or did something, and became partners with you.
  • How did people respond to your message (were comments positive, neutral, or negative?)
  • Did your followers, fans, or friends influence take any action to influence your campaign (influence others in the community)? If so, whom?
  • Were there any changes in behaviors or attitudes as a result of your message?
  • Did the message make your followers think about making a behavior change?
  • What other sentiments did followers express in response to your message?
  • Did you attain your goal—that is, did fans, followers, or friends change their behavior? If so, to what degree?
  • If your fans, followers, or friends didn’t change their behavior, how might you change your message to elicit a different response?
Analytic Tools
  • TweetReach from Union Metrics helps measure the reach and other metrics of your message(s).
  • Twitalyzer reports on metrics associated with your Twitter username (aka “handle”) and messages.
  • Topsy monitors social networking activity.
  • SocialBro analyzes your Twitter community.
  • Bottlenose detects what is being said on social media about you or your organization (also known as “trending”).
  • Symplur’s Healthcare Hashtag Project identifies relevant, health-related hashtags.
  • Facebook Page Insights provides analytics for your Facebook profile.
  • HowSociable assesses the presence of your organization or identify on different social networking sites (also known as “scoring”).
  • Google Analytics offers a set of tools to help you analyze the websites you operate.
  • Other third-party platforms, such as Hootsuite, allow you to measure Web activity, as well as manage your online engagement.
  • To measure changes in knowledge, satisfaction, attitudes, or behavior, you may also want to implement an online survey.


Last Updated: 09/24/2015