How a non-profit successfully measures audience engagement

Measuring your audience’s engagement is no easy task, but this non-profit succeeded. Here’s how you can do the same.


Putting a number on how engaged your audience is may not be easy, but it’s not impossible.

Consider following in the footsteps of Strategies to Overcome and Prevent (STOP) Obesity Alliance, a non-profit that works to prevent the spread of obesity-related chronic diseases.

It wanted to measure how successfully it engaged advocacy organizations that help promote its cause. It tapped research firm Determinus to create a measurement model, which took top honors in the Best PR Research category in the 2012 PR Daily Awards.

Under this model, the alliance learned engagement from its steering committee grew from 80 to 90 percent between 2009 and 2010, and 25 percent of associate member organizations deepened their interaction with the alliance in 2011.

Also, membership in the associate members program more than doubled, with many new members hearing about the alliance through word of mouth. This was a new level of engagement for the alliance.

How did it come up with these numbers for engagement-an area typically difficult to quantify?

The METRIC Model

It used the METRIC Model. To put it simply, the METRIC Model (Measuring Engagement and Tracking Influencer Communications) established a point system for different engagement activities.

The alliance listed activities and actions it wanted all organizations to participate in, and divided them into five categories based on the amount of involvement they required: limited, basic, intermediate, advanced and full engagement. Each category carried a point value between one and five. For example, if an organization accomplished a task in the limited category, it earned one point, whereas a task in the full engagement category earned it five points.

Here’s a look at some of the activities in each category:

Limited (one point)

  • Periodically checked in with STOP Obesity Alliance staff.
  • Provided information about their organization for the alliance’s website.

Basic (two points)

  • Submitted news to the STOP Obesity Alliance newsletter.
  • Participated in meeting alliance meetings and calls.
  • Used its listserv to share news and announcements about the STOP Obesity Alliance.

Intermediate (three points)

  • Was a guest blogger on the alliance blog.
  • Attended public alliance events.

Advanced (four points)

  • Shared alliance news on social media.
  • Participated in alliance projects or discussions.

Full engagement (five points)

  • Referred media or other organizations to the STOP Obesity Alliance for comment or expertise.
  • Participated in speaking events or conferences on behalf of the STOP Obesity Alliance.

The alliance tallied the scores at the end of a given year. The higher the score, the more engaged the organization.

With this new data, the alliance could easily track how well it engaged the organizations in its steering committee and associate members program, as well as chart progress from year to year. The data also helped the alliance identify ways to recruit new organizations to promote its cause even further.

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