How would you know if you're doing a good job, or improving if you're not measuring your results? I can't believe how many sizable organizations still use a one-way "fire and forget" method of pushing information to their employees, either with email blasts or by not having web analytics on their intranet. There are certainly a lot of tools available these days for analyzing the effectiveness of your intranet/portals (there may be a shameless plug for our great partner Webtrends somewhere below), and with the proliferation of enterprise social networking (ESN), we've taken some steps to make sure you can be just as effective using the activity stream to supplement existing news and communication channels.
One of my favorite features of our NewsGator Social Sites for Internal Communications Solution is the ability to truly measure the effectiveness of each item you've published into the activity stream. We've been using the solution internally, and I find it intriguing how each post stacks up to each other. Understanding why one post reached 60-70% of the intended audience, versus only 10-20% on another can help you make your messaging more effective. You’ll know what works and what doesn't. If all else fails, mentioning free food in your posts tends to help based on the numbers I've seen at NewsGator.
We put in a handful of different metrics in the Internal Communications Solution to help you better manage messaging through the stream. In addition to showing the number of views, likes, and total replies, we provide the reach percentage of the post (the number of people targeted by a post divided by the total number of unique employees who have interacted with it). At a glance the reach number should be your first indicator of which messages were effective and which ones weren't.
New in 4.1 is the ability to track impressions (the number of times a post was displayed) separately from “active” views (clicking on a stream item to bring up the modal window). Not only do impressions help you understand how many times something was shown in the stream, but used in conjunction with views/comments/likes, it can tell you which posts were more engaging. Having compelling pictures and posting links in your post can definitely help up your rate of engagement, for example.
Since we’re talking about reporting, if you didn't know, we also have a great partnership with Webtrends. We not only leverage the strong SharePoint analytics they offer, but they also integrate all the events which occur in our activity stream into a reporting pack, giving even more insight into your intranet usage and ESN adoption even beyond the scope of the Social Sites for Internal Communications solution. If you’re not doing any kind of web analytics now, I highly recommend checking out Webtrends.
With enterprise social networking becoming a new tool for corporate and internal communications, I'm really excited about where we're going in this space. Internal communications plus Webtrends gives great line of sight into the effectiveness of your ESN, and once you get that picture, it’s hard to go back to business as usual. We're already planning for future releases and what we'll be adding in terms of reporting (like capturing channel effectiveness with regard to mobile versus browser for example), so stay tuned!