NetChange Week 2009: Defining and Measuring Social Success

Defining and Measuring Social Success

Netchange Week 2009 (Toronto, ON)

Netchange Week

During June 8-12, 2009 the MaRS Discovery District here in Toronto, ON ran an event called “Netchange Week” (, a week-long event designed to explore how social technology can bolster social change. As part of this week I was invited to come run an afternoon workshop on social media and how to effectively define success in a way that could be measured.

Working with Chris Berry from Critical Mass we collaborated on a two-part session.

Part 1: Practical Social Analytics

In the first half, Chris delivered a presentation entitled “Practical Social Analytics” where he dug into three main topics “We’ve seen this before”, It’s people & finally that there are ways to usefully measure outcomes on some social media tools and technologies. His presentation is embedded below:

Chris’ talk was well received and after a short break, we moved on to part 2

Part 2: Applying What We’d Just Learned

Following Chris’ presentation I led the group of approximately 40 people through a 90 minute exercise where we worked through some example scenarios (fictional organizations with some specific goals) which let them try their hand at practicing what they had just learned from Chris

Example Scenario:

Scenario 1-Year Goal 5-Year Goal
The director of a Toronto Foodbank wants to make use of social media. They have a simple website, tagged with Google Analytics, with a form that people can fill out to volunteer and another form where people can make cash donations. There’s a staff member who knows how to use twitter, owns a Mac, and a Flip Vid camera. Feed 100% of the families with 50% of what they need when they come through the door. Intervening Goal: More bodies, more money. Feed 100% of the families with 100% of what they need when they come through the door. Intervening Goal: More steady funding.

Brainstorm & Refine

Each group was first asked to individually brainstorm possible social media tactics to achieving this goal. The group members then shared their ideas and the group chose at least 3 tactics to work deeper on.

Defining & Measuring Success

For each of the tactics the groups were now asked to work through a process where they first defined what success meant in the context of Awareness (who knows about it), Engagement (who has commented, participated) and Financial (fundraising/revenue). Then, using their definition of success, they determined how they would measure whether or not that goal had been achieved with concrete measures.

This process of defining success and then determining how to measure it unfolded as a cycle that was repeated three times, each time focusing on a different context (Awareness, Engagement & Financial).


Once each of the groups had completed the process we went around the tables and each group selected a spokesperson who walked us through what their goal was, what their tactics were, what success meant and how they’d measure it.

Anecdotal feedback from the session was quite positive and I think many people learned quite a bit. Our main goal was to help people learn the process of setting realistic and concretely measurable goals and the distinction between defining success and actually measuring it. My impression is that we achieved that goal.

If you want to see how the workshop unfolded my deck is embedded below, it’s fairly sparse as it was really just used so people could have a reminder of which task was at hand while working through the process: