Advocacy organizations need to be able to track traffic and analyze the reach of their messaging and who are the major influencers affecting their campaign’s outcome. While there are many tools available, it can be difficult to choose between them. Below discusses three particular measurement tools – Bit.ly, Act.ly and Klout – which provide online metrics for a campaign to use when discerning overall campaign effectiveness, online influence and measurable outcomes.
Bit.ly is an online utility site that allows advocacy organizations to shorten website links to a more usable format. Once the user accesses the site, they simply type in a URL or copy and paste a URL into the “shorten your links and share from here” textbox From there, the site will automatically shorten the link for them. For example, if a particular news outlet reports on gay marriage, the URL on their page may be:
The URL is too long and cumbersome for Stop8.org to continuously cut and paste into their social media for their advocates to see. Therefore, they cut and paste the URL into Bit.ly, whereby once dropped into the proper space, Bit.ly returns with the shorter link http://bit.ly/dJyEgv, which is just as permanent and reusable as long as the perma-link above is still alive
While Bit.ly seems basic, it offers quite a few beneficial features for advocacy organizations; the most obvious is the ability to shorten the link. When efficiency is key for others to take action, it is paramount make every bit of information they share more user-friendly. Therefore, by shortening the link, advocates will have an easier time passing along the link to others. More importantly, it is easier to post links in social media that are shorter and longer, particularly when using those tools that have character constraints. This is notably an issue with Twitter. As Twitter requires its tweets to have a maximum of 140 characters, shortening a lengthy URL allows advocacy organizations to add links to their tweets for others to click and follow. Bit.ly also allows users to create custom short links based on an organization’s URL, as well as allow advocacy organizations to integrate Bit.ly with their social media monitoring tools like Tweetdeck, creating an easier environment for any organization to monitor and measure results.
However, the most notable and major benefit Bit.ly offers advocacy organizations is the ability to track a variety of metrics. By placing a “+” at the end of a link (e.g. http://bit.ly/dJyEgv+), or simply going to the information page on that link, Bit.ly then tracks the following information:
1. The number of clicks that Bit.ly link specifically generated
2. A histogram of when clicks occurred the most, which then advocacy organizations can track back to see what happened at the time of those links in the organization’s outreach endeavors
3. A snapshot on the number of conversations that used that Bit.ly link
4. Referral details about where online people clicked the Bit.ly link the most, notifying the user where the most traffic comes from, including from what countries advocates clicked the link from the most as well
5. Supplies a QR code which advocacy organizations can use on their print collateral, such as direct mail pieces, flyers and posters, which then advocates can then scan with their smartphones and go directly to that URL
These measurements are not only good when wanting to measure the strength of your campaign’s Bit.ly links, but also wanting to track those links by competing organizations. Anyone can take a Bit.ly link and add the “+” sign to the end to see stats on that link and measure how competing or similar campaigns stack up against one another.
Act.ly is an online tool that allows advocacy organizations to create overly viral petitions via Twitter. The process is very basic yet effective. First, an organization goes to the Act.ly site, type in whom the petition is targeted toward, the title of the petition, and then clicks the “create” button. Next, they fill out the details of the petition, choose whether or not they wish to follow anyone who signs the petition, whether or not they wish to show the results on a map, and save the petition. Then Act.ly sends the petition out via the organization’s Twitter feed for their followers to see and sign.
While the process to create the petition is easy to do for any organization, it is in Act.ly’s simplicity to get others to sign the petition that makes it a strong tool for any advocacy campaign. Advocates sign the petition by simply tweeting about it or retweeting it from their feed. Doing so also as the petition instantly show up in that advocate’s Twitter feed, ultimate sharing the petition with their followers. Though it is obvious in the ease of signing the petition, every petition signature is far more meaningful to an organization now as not only was a person willing to sign it, they were also willing to tell all of their friends and followers about it too. Finally, every time one retweets the petition, the target of the petition receives a mention in their Twitter account directly. Act.ly also provides you with an embed code should an advocacy group wish to take the petition and add an to their website like Twitter or Facebook.
While the tool is easy to use and effective at disseminating a petition, it only has certain measuring and tracking qualities that would be useful to an organization. As mentioned previously, Act.ly allows a campaign to see where on a map the most tweets are coming from. This would be helpful when wanting to target specific demographics. Act.ly also allows you to see who has signed your petition and the number of followers they have. This is good as it can help discern which signers could be potential influencers on your campaign and whom you may wish to both follow on Twitter and engage in conversation. However, Act.ly requires a campaign that created a petition to rely on Twitter analytics via Twitter versus through the actual site. While one can still gain valuable information through these means, it would be advantageous for Act.ly to provide the same analytics on their current platform.
Klout provides a robust selection of metrics for an advocacy campaign to use when measuring the strength of its overall online presence and influence on others in the social media realm. Once a campaign types in its twitter handle into the search box on Klout’s homepage, the system uses 35 different variables to calculate the following measurables: True Reach, Amplification Probability, and Network Influence.
True Reach is the size of a campaign’s truly engaged audience. By eliminating extraneous accounts that do little to support a campaign’s purpose, Klout calculates the influence of that organization, taking into account factors such as whether an individual has shared or acted upon your content and the likelihood that they saw it. For instance, when entering “stop8dotorg” into the search box, Klout reported back that the Stop8.org campaign had a relatively large reach, stating that the campaign had 699 engaged audience members, which as Klout states is larger than most on Twitter. Unforunately, Klout does not show which of these are the most influential.
Amplification Probability is the likelihood that followers and advocates alike will actually take action on that campaign’s content. This includes the probability that someone would like your comments on Facebook or the likelihood someone would tweet about your campaign or retweet what a campaign shares in their Twitter feed. Amplification probability also takes into account engagement, the velocity of your content, as well as your activity level and effectiveness. In the case of Stop8.org, Klout shows that the campaign has 49 total retweets, 19 @ mentions, and has a 0.72 inbound/outbound ratio.
Finally, Network Influence indicates how influential a particular campaign’s engaged audience; their level of engagement is measured based on actions such as retweets, @messages, follows, lists, comments, and likes. Each time a person performs one of these actions, it bolsters the strength your content has in the social media realm and the quality of that content. For Stop8.org, Klout details that the campaign does well when deciding whom to follow online regarding influencers. However, the tool dictates that Stop8.org could do better using @ mentions in its strategy, therefore directing its tweets to others specifically.
One other useful measurement Klout provides is its Influence Matrix. Here, Klout shows who a particular campaigns influence and who influences that campaign in return, doing so via a variety of factors including retweets, @messages, follows, and lists. For Stop8.org, Klout classifies it as a “specialist,” stating, “You may not be a celebrity, but within your area of expertise your opinion is second to none. Your content is likely focused around a specific topic or industry with a focused, highly-engaged audience.” It also shows who the most likely influencers are to the campaign, which would allow Stop8.org to track those influencers and take advantage of their networks for further disseminating information about marriage equality.
Overall, Klout gives valuable information about how well an organization is doing online and working towards amplifying their advocacy messages, as well as how engaged they are with their network of current supporters and advocates. One recommendation would be that Klout could be clearer about the initial Klout score and the actual Klout score. While it can give an organization a boost of confidence if their score is on the high side – say 80 out of 100 versus 30 – the score does seem to be somewhat arbitrary without specific understanding of how it all works.