Part 7: Monitoring and evaluation

This is the final step in a clearly defined sequence designed to illustrate the key components of a project linking marginalised young people with social media. (Part 8: Sustainability, which follows this is about a concept which applies at every step of the social media process, and so stands separate from the seven stages listed in Chapter 2.)

So, this is all about monitoring how your social media site functions and assessing what happens. Monitoring means gathering data, and evaluating means assessing its meaning. The information you collect should be fed back into the running of the site, but it can also be used to demonstrate to management/stakeholders etc how effective the investment has been. You can quantify that measure using numeric data, counts of interactions and so on. Be realistic about your progress and don’t cover up what’s not working.

Use the measurement tools you built into your site at the start in order to make an assessment of your site and activities. These will help you quantify the activity of young people, show what they do and don't like, what works and what doesn’t. Use anecdotal evidence, in the form of young person activities, ad hoc remarks etc, to create a qualitative body of evidence. You’ll use this quantitative and qualitative data to measure and evaluate your work and match against the objectives you set at the beginning of your project.

When you attempt to match this data to your objectives you should do so using success or failure criteria. The social media team should decide upon this criteria. It's about being able to predict what will be markers of success. Think about your outcomes and objectives. These are the goals you are aiming for and the success of failure will be in relation to those.

And of course, all this work is for the benefit of young people, so you should be logging good and bad experiences, noting remarks, and reporting experiences from staff meetings. All this will help in your evaluation and of course feedback into the work you do. Create channels for young people to report back and make sure they know of the existence of these channels, how to use them and what they can say. This kind of activity will contribute to site ownership.
 

RECOMMENDATIONS - ORGANISATION

  • Monitor activities in your organisation
    • Gather all your date regularly. Every week may be too often, every month may be about right
    • Remind the social media team, as well as the rest of the staff, to log all examples of use and experience by young people and staff
    • Speak to your social media team of youth workers - they will be invaluable in helping to monitor and evaluate
    • Establish success and failure criteria (in terms of young people)
  • Evaluate activities in your organisation
    • Examine the indicators for online activities (Google Analytics, number of posts etc)
    • Use the evaluation procedures you already have (try NOT to make new ones)
    • If you don’t have an evaluation tool, then see Chapter 6: Measuring impact
    • Assess the relevance of what you’re doing and the tools you’re using - keep comparing to goals and outcomes
    • Make the evaluation a recuring item on the staff agenda
    • Keep a note of your evaluation so that you can compare each month (or as often as required)
    • Every six months or so you should make a longer term evaluation of the expereinces and performance of staff in relation to the social media project
       

RECOMMENDATIONS - YOUNG PEOPLE

  • Monitor activities of your young people
    • Don’t forget your project is for young people, so always consult them
    • Monitor indicators for online activities (Google Analytics, number of posts, observe their actions when they are online etc)
    • Collect data online about young people’s experiences in the social media project
    • Use short online questionnaires, like brief polls or surveys, to measure the outcomes of the social media
    • Make your measurement tools brief and concise
    • Ensure there are clear formal and informal channels for young people to give their opinion on the social media project
    • Note ad hoc comments, but set up more formal opportunities for feedback about their experiences, improvements etc.
    • Try to offer feedback opportunities online, like a tab on a site's navigation bar, so young people can give feedback anytime
  • Evaluate activities of your young people
    • Establish success and failure criteria (in terms of young people). Relate this to your goals and outomes
    • Keep a note of your evaluation so that you can compare each month (or as often as required)
    • Every six months or so you should make a longer term evaluation of the expereinces and performance of young people in relation to the social media project