last night i went to a panel discussion on how you can measure the success of digital projects. of course this was of interest to me because with us living in such a ‘digital word’, it’s important that our sexual health campaigns have a strong component that uses digital properties, such as websites, twitter, facebook, youtube etc.
while this adds to our multi-platform offering, there’s also a struggle to figure out what is success – in a meaningful way other than just x thousands/millions of people visited the site over a period of time. and let’s be honest those figures can be subjective too. what they were saying last night, and i really felt was spot on, it’s got to be about engagement. how are users engaging with the campaign, with the brand?
this could be measured by anything from the amount of time they spend on the site – if they’re spending time on the site they’re engaged by something – to things like how they’re commenting, what they’re commenting on – basically it’s got to be about the user experience. Ultimately if we seek to identify the actual human interaction on the site – or whatever the digital offering is – then we can see a level of ‘customer satisfaction’.
it was based on commerical projects and tv programmes, but i thought this was interesting for HIV/AIDS projects that use digital media as well. after doing a google search i found there weren’t that many sites for the user on HIV/AIDS anyway – the user being young people that is. the other day i really struggled to find a site for young people that explained MCP in a way that was relevant to them.
this led me to thinking – how can we do educational campaigns without having this information readily available for young people in a language and a medium that’s accessible for them? yeah you have unaids and avert, but really, are these sites young people want to go to?
and that was another thing that they said on the panel – don’t focus on bringing the people to your branded site, instead take the content to where they already are. and make it easy to find.
i think at staying alive we are using digital in a good way, we have some really strong online properties, but we also have the challenge of figuring out how to capture that new audience – so that we’re not preaching to the choir – and engaging with them.
so far we’ve seen some success with our blogs, but definitely with facebook and twitter. i have to admit, i’m not on twitter – i just don’t get it (from an personal perspective) – but it works, it’s a great tool to keep people updated and even sending them to our various websites.
where i think we’re falling short is the information we give out. yes, our strength is not in the actual information, but i think we have a real opportunity where young people trust us as a credible and cool source that we should be giving them more of the hard information. to be fair we are doing this a bit better with our blogs for our ignite project. they’re written by young people themselves and they talk about various topics relating to sexual health, which i think this is a good thing. they talk about relationships, one night stands, getting circumcised etc, stuff that we want them to know about about, putting across information while entertaining the user.
we still have the challenge of getting those users to leave comments, so that we know that we’re doing something right or what we’re doing wrong.
so i do believe that now, more than ever, whether you’re addressing young people in Africa or young people in Europe, you need digital components to your projects. you just need to figure out how to make sure its the user experience in mind – and not about your brand – whether you’re an NGO or a UN agency or a company with a CSR agenda. and there’s nothing wrong with going to someone with more experience – like us!

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