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Communication Indicators

Key elements in Communication Evaluation and Success Criteria

Indicators for better self care and indicators for good communication are not the same. Of course your communication should help promote self care, but this may be a very lenghty process – eg. changes in dental hygiene took a generation or so – and therefore measuring commmunication should look for other indicators to help ascertain whether you are successful in your endevaours.

Leading Indicators for Evaluation of Communication

Lagging Indicators for Evaluation of Communication

Leading Indicators
Leading indicators show initial effect(s), user behaviour in response to your communication – these are significant to show that/how the communications tools are performing. They are also indicators that lead to your actual goal.

So for the communication tools, significant areas where you should / could consider setting up key evaluation points and success criteria:
Media Coverage
User behaviour

Media Coverage
In large scale communication and campaigns measuring media coverage may be relevant to evaluate your communication. One consideration at this stage is setting up a system of not only counting in quantity, but also in terms of quality. This may require you to establish when a coverage is “positive”, “useful” or perhaps “critical” or “negative”.

And likewise also to try to prioritize the different media – are any more important to you (or your target group) than others? The answer to this question might also be useful for you in considering your current and future communication efforts.

User Behaviour
Of course you would like very much to see direct change in behaviour towards better self-care. However this may not always be possible in a short term – but there are other changes in user behaviour / attitudes that might help you measure an effect.

Website usage
Increase in number of users, change in user behaviour, ordering/use of specific items on your website can play a part in evaluating your communication. More specifically there is an entire field of web analytics, that can track specific user behaviour before, during, and after other communication efforts to measure changes.
This should often be used in combination with other data as this only tracks the users actions – not their perceptions, knowledge, or attitudes.

If you use mail based newsletters towards larger groups of users tracking click-throughs, opt-out (and opt-in) numbers, and potentially time on site after release of your newsletter might be a very direct way of measuring your communication. But also try to evaluate and track which parts of your newsletter the recipients responded to; The three-step guide, the article with the new pictures, or perhaps the video from an event? Knowing more about the type of content that appeals to your users can help to optimize your communication efforts.

Social Media
Measuring the activity on Social Media (via a specific hashtag or a specific page) can be worthwhile – or indeed be set up as a concrete way to enable you to measure the effect of other communication efforts. If you encourage your users to ask questions via eg. Facebook or Twitter – how many react? What do they ask about? In what tone?

Leading to change
Remember to set up indicators leading to change. Would you like to reduce infections? A leading indicator could/would be better use of preventive measures – use of hygiene, interest in hygiene courses, distribution of soap/hand desinfectants, interest in hygiene campaigns.

Would you like to reduce the unnecessary use of antibiotics to treat cough? Can you target and measure a number of GPs communicated to about this? A number of community HCP to adress the issue in meetings?


Lagging Indicators
Lagging Indicators are closer to your end goal – the actual change in self care.

Significant areas where you should / could consider setting up key evaluation points and success criteria:
Use of specific advice

Depending on your specific target audience and self care initiative, you would have specific wishes for the behaviour of the users. What are these? Your lagging indicators should of course support your end goal, but should be set up to help you point your attention and efforts to the factors that might support steps towards this goal.

Improving interest and activity in selected groups are key to the chances of actually producing change. Where/how might you measure such extra interest? At GPs, pharmacies, self care courses for citizens, increase in courses for day care centers or schools – or?

Social Media
As mentioned above, social media can be one way of measuring this. As a lagging indicator, this will of course require a more in-depth analysis of the type of conversation on social media. However user behaviour in as to search terms, types of questions raised in blogs, issued discussed (perhaps combined/compared to numbers discussing other, similar issues) are potential lagging indicators as well – or might give good insights on how/where to setup these indicators.