Social campaigns: measuring impact in 7 steps

If you want to know whether an online campaign achieves good results or whether a product sells well, check the turnover of your webshop. But how do you measure the effect of a social campaign aimed at behavioral change, such as safer driving or attention to nature conservation? It may work slightly differently, but as a social marketer you can certainly say something about the impact of your campaign. In this article I show you in 7 steps how you can gain more insight into this.

Social campaigns are all about changing behaviour. Think of the Bob campaigns against driving under the influence of alcohol or the #DOESLIEF campaign with which SIRE wants to make Dutch people think about how we interact with each other on a daily basis (and yes, that could be better). But how do you know whether people actually change their behavior? Can you measure the effect of your social campaign? Hell yes!

1. Define the desired impact

It sounds like an open door. But you can only determine your result if you know whether you have achieved your goal. And based on goals and results, you can see where there is room for improvement and you can learn from your campaigns. So: what impact do you want to make with your online campaign? In many cases this will be a long-term goal, such as with the MONO campaign. The aim of this campaign is to reduce the use of social media by cyclists and motorists while driving. The fact that social media and traffic form a dangerous combination requires people to become aware. And it will take some time before we really stop checking our social media while driving. Yet you also want to see results in the short term. But what do you measure?

2. Set digital goals

To be able to measure results in the short term, you must first set your goals here too. For example, consider the following digital goals:

  • The watch time: how many people watch your video for more than 2 minutes
  • Number of clicks: how many people click through to your website
  • Average page views per session
  • The number of people who stay on your website for more than 3 minutes
  • The number of people who scroll all the way down the webpage with your main message
  • The degree of interaction on your campaign (by way of illustration: 32% of the Dutch have actively used ‘#DOESLIEF’ themselves*; that says something about the impact)

3. Include impact goals in the annual plan

It works best if you set impact goals at an organizational level every year. Preferably include this in the annual plan. As a result, you not only have focus in the campaigns you conduct, but as a marketer you also have a direct mandate to execute the campaigns. Has your organization not yet set goals for the impact you want to make? Check it out NCVO’s article about setting goals of the Impact path of, among others. Social Enterprise Netherlands.

4. Use benchmarks

By comparing the results of your digital goals with benchmarks, you get a nice indication of the quality of the results you have achieved. I would like to add a note here. Because the time a visitor spends on a website can also depend on the website itself. If a site loads less quickly or contains a lot of text, that can also be a reason that a visitor stays longer on the site. Then that time will score better than the benchmark, but that does not automatically say anything about the qualitative impact of your social campaign.

5. Ask questions

An often forgotten, but very effective research method: surveying! Take to the streets, into the neighborhood or consciously seek out your target group to measure the impact of your social campaign. By doing a survey before and after your campaign, you can analyze the difference. Yes, this way of research is expensive. But you also get something in return. This is because you have the opportunity to ask people for their opinion and for feedback about their behaviour. And this input often has more value than the – not always watertight – figures about website behavior. In fact, you can fine-tune your campaign based on the survey results.

For example, before-and-after research into the MONO campaign showed that the campaign has not ensured that more road users find it normal to take precautions to prevent you from being distracted by social media in traffic. The campaign has been able to increase the sense of responsibility among cyclists not to be involved with social media while participating in traffic. Overall, road users’ sense of responsibility has remained the same between the pre- and post-measurement.** With this input, the campaign can be further improved.

6. Model and convince

If you, as a marketer, want to convince your manager to free up extra budget for your social campaign, a scientific model can provide the right substantiation. A model tells a story. With that story you can demonstrate: look, this is how we are going to change the behavior of our target group. Google’s standard online marketing “see-think-do-care” model works great for a sales funnel, but it’s not relevant for social campaigns. A model that lends itself better to social campaigns is the ‘Circle of Behavioral Change’ by Prochaska and DiClemente† This model shows six different phases of change, such as ‘contemplation’, ‘decision’ and ‘consolidation’. You can tailor your campaign to these phases and then present it well-substantiated to your management.

7. Evaluate your goal and learning

After your campaign is over, it’s time to take stock. You can visualize the digital goals, such as the number of clicks and the session duration on your website. Compare these results with available benchmarks. Were the goals (too) ambitious or easy to achieve? Then look at the social impact and the results of your survey, for example. Identify five things that went well and five things that could be improved. As soon as you start doing a second campaign, you have even more tools in your hands. Then you can compare your campaigns. For example, why did the Amazon forest clearing campaign outperform the anti-whaling campaign? Was there a difference in target audience? Does the subject appeal to people more or less? With answers to these kinds of questions, you make your campaign and the results more concrete for the decision-makers in your organization.

Also keep in mind that it is a long-term process. So even if you don’t achieve your goals by a long way, or much too easily: the results help you to ask the right questions and get closer to the essence of your social campaigns. And finally with that one important goal, changing behavior. Do you have experience measuring the impact of your social campaign, or do you have questions about this? Share your experience or leave your comment below this article.

*Source: Campaign #DOESLIEF
**Bron: central government

Source: Frankwatching by

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