Measuring the impact of an alternative narrative campaign: a LOUD project webinar

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Paris, France, July 2020 – The LOUD project’s fourth and last online webinar on alternative narrative campaigning addressed the key issue of how to measure a campaign’s impact and effectiveness. Held online, it gathered 30 attendees and was presented by Gifty Boachie, data strategist at the non-governmental organisation Shelter, which provides help to homeless people in England and Scotland, and formerly at Amnesty International.

Meeting your audience where they are

Choosing the right dissemination channels in order to reach the audience you are targeting for your campaign is obviously fundamental. “The aim of dissemination is to deliver your message to your target audience using appropriate channels in order to evoke the thoughts and feelings that lead to your desired campaign actions,” summarised Gifty Boachie. In other words, “meet the audience where they are and tailor your materials to the channels you’re using,” she added. 

Choosing and combining the right channels

The channel is where you publish/present/disseminate your campaign materials (i.e. your video, poster, article…). Most campaigns use a combination of off- and online channels, and each have different ways of measuring their impact, although a general rule is that it is easier with online channels, which have embedded measuring functions. 

When choosing your channels, there are different aspects to take into account. The first one is the audience presence and uptake: “Are your audience present on that channel, and what do they use it for?,” stressed Gifty Boachie. Another one is the cost: some channels are more expensive than others because “you’re effectively paying for attention.” A third one is the so-called ‘level of ownership’, i.e. the difference between your own Facebook page for example, which you own, and an article published in a local newspaper following your press release (which you’ve earned hence called earned media), or an advertisement in a magazine (which you’ve paid hence called paid media). 

Offline dissemination

Depending on the nature and theme of your campaign and the characteristics of your audience, it is also recommended to use offline channels, for example identifying and targeting ‘brand ambassadors’ who will feature the campaign on their own social media and real world networks. This is particularly interesting in the case of the LOUD project because the campaigns are being developed and promoted by local ‘ambassadors’, i.e. youngsters who have influence on their entourage and are considered credible. 

Another way of doing this is to organise outreach meetings/workshops that can be moderated by a local journalist. In that case, the measurement can include the number of event attendees, the number of mentions in the media, and the recall rate, i.e. the number of people who remember a campaign afterwards. 

Measuring the effectiveness of your campaign

Another hugely important aspect is of course how to measure the effectiveness of your campaign. Two main criteria are used: the reach, i.e. to what extent your campaign has reached the desired audience and how many people have seen it, and conversion, i.e. to what extent your audience has completed the desired action (for example signing your petition, or joining your demonstration) or changed their behaviour (e.g. introduced new procedures to stamp out racial bias). You can do this throughout the campaign cycle: before you create it, i.e. by determining what your ‘landscape’ is (the general background/context in which you are acting); during the campaign, i.e. optimisation and testing, which are often easier to implement in a digital context than offline; and after the campaign as part of a wider evaluation and for learning opportunities. 

Social media pros and cons

Each social media has their pros and cons, which Gifty Boachie detailed in the last part of her presentation. Facebook is extremely powerful with a huge audience of 2.2 billion active users each month, but advertising on it is expensive. Instagram is the second-largest social media with one billion active users a month and a generally younger audience than Facebook, but its strong focus on visual communication can deter some advertisers or not be adapted to some campaigns. The video platform TikTok has emerged only in 2016 but it already has an audience of 500 million active users each month, mainly young people aged between 14 and 19. Twitter (330 million active users per month), LinkedIn (660 million members) and Snapchat (210 million daily active users) are also powerful social media, each with their specific qualities and drawbacks. 

On Twitter and Instagram in particular, hashtags are an effective means to convey a message and measure in real time how audiences pick it up and disseminate it. The recommendation here is to create short, punchy and affirmative hashtags but not to overstretch their use either. 

The four LOUD webinars on alternative narrative campaigning as well as more information on the LOUD project are available on Efus’ website here

social media pros and cons