Social intranet analytics option
Image courtesy of David Boté Estrada, Flikr

You are a digital workplace manager. Your boss will ask you for a report on your social intranet.

What social intranet analytics to measure ??

There are a thousand things you could measure, so how do you figure out which ones are the right ones to track and report on ??

Take a step back and think. What did you want to achieve by enabling the social features of your SharePoint 2013 implementation or your ThoughtFarmer intranet ?

Sadly many digital workplace managers turn social intranet features on for no good reason. This makes deciding what to measure very hard. BUT I know that you’re not one of those folks, you’re a true intranet professional and you only do things that have tangible value to staff. Right ? Yeah good.

For the sake of argument lets imagine that your organisational values are the following:

  • people
  • stewardship
  • cooperation

And you’ve implemented comments, likes and sharing on news items for the following reasons:

  • Comments with staff photo and name, so that individual staff expertise is more visible
  • Likes/Dislikes, so that staff sentiment about specific topics can be gauged
  • Sharing, so that staff can let other staff know about news items they think are interesting

But what do you measure ???

I think that a good approach is adapting the ideas presented by Kevan Lee in his article “The definitive guide to social media metrics and stats“. He talks about Jay Baer’s concept of four key elements of content marketing, which I think can be adapted to the intranet and digital workplace.

  1. Consumption metrics: How many people viewed, downloaded, or listened to this piece of content?
  2. Sharing metrics: How resonant is this content, and how often is it shared with others?
  3. Lead-gen metrics: How often does content consumption result in a lead?
  4. Sales metrics: Did we actually make any money from this content?

Marrying this approach up to the idea Stacy Wilson outlines in ‘How to measure enterprise social technology‘ of using qualitative and quantitative measures will give you the best outcome. Stacy also talks about a key element that I often see digital folks forget: What do the leadership team actually care about ?

I’m sure you’ll agree for social intranet analytics lead-generation and sales metrics don’t make much sense. But we can adapt these to the intranet space. Internally lead generation is increasing staff awareness and sales is staff actually acting on something.

Intranet social metrics

Coming back to our news site example for each of our metrics we should measure

  1. Consumption: Number of real staff actually viewed the entire news item for at least the time it takes to read the item. Say 45 seconds or more. Looking at this report for all news items would give a good idea of the news topics staff were most prepared to spend time reading. Doing some split testing with imagery and headlines for new news items on that topic would then give you data on how important good headlines and good imagery were to actually reading the news.
    This is a quantitative measure.
  2. Sharing: By having email link and share buttons which leave a record in the log file that you can report on you will be able to get a report on the number of times each news item is shared via each sharing mechanism. You will also be able to get a list of user accounts who do the most sharing.
    This is a quantitative measure.
    You could extend this by matching the user accounts to the teams or departments the actual staff are in. From that you could begin to see patterns in culture related to those teams or departments. By this I mean you may see some departments that do lots of sharing and some that do none.
  3. Staff awareness: to measure this you’ll need to move away from log file type reports and relate the metrics to staff perception. For example: you introduce a new “help” request system to the organisation. Before you do this, baseline staff understanding of where they can get help. Lets say you’ve done that and it shows that only 12% think they can get help via the intranet. After setting up the new help system, educating staff and communicating with them, you survey them again. This time 47% say they think they can get help via the intranet. See the next metric for the key insight.
  4. Staff action: or “Show me the money!”. Using our new help system example we can go back into the log files for a report on the number of staff who actually requested help using the new system. Because it is new we can only look at change in usage over time not before and after as we did for “staff awareness”. The best reporting for our example would be “% of all staff who have requested help in the past X time period”. The other key report is staff who have never requested help with the new system. Again if you marry real people to their team or department you may find trends that indicate issues. This second report gives the help system project team a focus for education/communication on about the new help system.

Too much work

Yep – but you still need a report for you boss about how successful your social digital workplace tools are.

OK here it is:

If you know what you’re trying to achieve it is much easier to measure and correct course.

Our goal was

  • Comments with staff photo and name, so that individual staff expertise is more visible
  • Likes/Dislikes, so that staff sentiment about specific topics can be gauged
  • Sharing, so that staff can let other staff know about news items they think are interesting

So our report for the boss needs to have

  • Number of news items.
  • Average number of times a news item is actually read.
  • Number of comments total – shows staff are using the tool the boss paid for.
  • Average comments per news item – indicates if the news is of interest to staff or not.
  • Summary by you of comments from staff that show off their expertise, and how this was beneficial to the organisation. You may find that if staff profiles have also been implemented that staff with skills in their profiles get more profile views, and when you question them they say they’re getting queries from areas they never had questions from before.
  • Top 10 most liked and disliked news items.
  • Summary by you of the implications and reasons for why each news item was so liked and disliked. The senior team don’t get a feel for staff sentiment unless they have an all staff meeting. Your intranet is a location and date/time independent platform. Facilitating staff sharing their sentiment is hard to quantify but very valuable to the executive team.
  • Top 20 most shared news items.
  • Summary by you of the reasons for sharing of these news items.

As you can see this isn’t going to be a big report, and in fact if you’re not technical you could drop all the quantitative items and just provide the summaries.

Now you’ve read a big long blog post so for those of you who’ve got this far here is a little bit of honey in the bottom of the pot. In your summary sections of the intranet social analytics report relate what you understand about the comments, likes and shares to the organisational values and you’ll get a lot of pull with the senior team. You’ll get even more if you can reasonably relate values to the activity you’ve seen on the intranet. Here is an example report:

In the first two weeks of the comments being available half of them contained information about the writer’s expertise. Of those who commented a few said they had discussed the comments with other staff they didn’t normally speak with.

After the second week we ran a two week campaign with team leaders about how they could explain the value of comments to their team. In the second month 65% of comments contained information about the writers expertise, but more than half those said they had interacted with staff they didn’t normally because of their comments.

The organisational values of cooperation and people have been facilitated by the comments section of the intranet. Stewardship has been harder to relate to the ability for staff to comment on news items, though one comment on one news item about our new project had resulted in a better outcome according to the project manager.

SharePoint Social analytics an executive summary

In the SharePoint world, or if you’re using another digital workplace solution, these same principles apply:

  • Know your organisational values that the senior team value and are trying to embed.
  • Implement social features with a goal in mind.
  • Measure outcomes or actions rather than eyeballs and clicks.
  • Report on the qualitative and the quantitative.
  • Improve in iterations.

Do this!

If you do nothing else, then do this:

  1. read your company values (2mins).
  2. then read comments on news items that are on your home page right now (4mins).
  3. then email your boss with a summary of how comments you’ve seen relate to one of the values (4mins).

Then spend a couple of mins working out which team needs a reminder about why constructive positive comments are useful way to help your organisation and email them too 🙂

How do you measure social in your digital workplace ? Let me know.


Social digital workplace analytics
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