Assessing the way the social media winds are blowing

KSurette    November 4, 2014



Organization Name: Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA)

Industry: Industry Association – wind power generation

Name of contact: Lejla Latifovic, Communications Officer

Web references: Canadian Wind Energy Association

Social media has become a part of everyday life.  Countless numbers of conversations take place online daily.  Smart organizations have realized importance of participating in social media activities, and the value of, and need to, keep track of what is being said about them online.  The use of social media metrics and analytical tools have simplified this process.

The Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) is the voice of Canada’s wind energy industry, actively promoting the responsible and sustainable growth of wind energy.  A national non-profit association, CanWEA is Canada’s leading source of information on wind energy’s social, economic, health and environmental benefits for Canadian communities and provincial economies.  Established in 1984, CanWEA represents the wind energy community — organizations and individuals who are directly involved in the development and application of wind energy technology, products and services. {Source: CanWEA – About us}

The winds of change
Wind energy has become a topic of conversation across Canada.  With an abundance of wind resources, all provinces and territories (with the exception of Nunavut) have installed wind turbines to increase their percentage of electricity generated by renewable sources.

CanWEA has used a number of traditional means to promote the benefits of wind energy in Ontario and elsewhere in Canada.  For example, its YouTube channel contains a number of videos which feature civic leaders, economic development officials, students and tradespeople speaking about the positive impact wind energy has had on them.

However, not everyone agrees with the use of wind turbines to generate electricity. Opponents of wind energy projects are using a number of ways, including social media and other online resources, to let governments and developers know wind turbines are not welcome in their communities.  CanWEA has realized the importance of keeping track of what is being said online about wind energy, and participating in the conversation when necessary or beneficial.

According to Lejla Latifovic, Communications Officer with CanWEA, the organization first dipped its toe in the social media sphere around wind energy a couple years ago, but in a limited way. As an example, CanWEA invited the public to create an account through its Wind Facts website {} and submit questions about wind energy. CanWEA would then post its responses online. Although this exercise allowed CanWEA to engage with the public and get a sense of the questions/concerns regarding wind energy, Latifovic explains that it was a one-way conversation where the organization would push its messages out and there was limited opportunity for feedback.

CanWEA’s social activity has evolved to include an active Facebook page, Twitter account (@CANWindEnergy), LinkedIn page and a Friends of Wind Facebook page.

Latifovic has explained that the goal and objectives of CanWEA’s social media activity is to grow CanWEA’s reach through social media; to grow its authority level, and been seen an authoritative voice for wind energy in social media; to grow the wind energy conversation and get CanWEA’s messages out.

CanWEA - Alberta campaign
CanWEA uses Facebook ads to raise engagement on its Facebook page.

CanWEA has used three principal means to monitor and evaluate their social media activities.

Google analytics was first used to garner information about traffic to each of the websites. Statistics are generated on a website’s traffic, how the websites were accessed, what content was viewed and how long was spent on each page.

With an increase in their online activities, CanWEA decided it required more detailed information about the impact it was having on social conversations.  The use of Hootsuite has allowed CanWEA to expand the information it gains from its efforts.  Not only does it allow CanWEA to gain important site stats, but it allows the organization to track online conversations about wind energy in general, and CanWEA specifically.  Tracking conversations allows CanWEA to respond to concerns or correct inaccurate information in a timely manner.  However, parameters around when CanWEA would inset itself into the conversation had to be determined: Lejla explained that they would respond directly to questions, and errors in information. As she put it:

Real-time feedback is important. Twenty-four hours is a long time online. {Source: interview with Lejla Latifovic}

CanWEA - Facebook post
Comment made on one of CanWEA’s Facebook posts. Hootsuite notified CanWEA right away, and was able to insert itself into the conversation.

CanWEA has also engaged the services of a social media analytics firm.  According to its website, Infomart provides reliable news and social data, accurate analytics and true insights that serve as trusted guides to Canada’s best marketers and communicators; helping organizations gain a deeper understanding of their brand’s media impact, their content experts and media monitoring and analytics platform provide the tools and insights needed to manage and improve media strategies and campaigns. {Source: Infomart website}.  Infomart provides benchmark reports on CanWEA’s social media activities every 6 months.  Infomart tracks how many times CanWEA is mentioned in tweets/posts; what conversations are initiated, by whom and their authority on Twitter (activity, followers, etc); impressions of CanWEA within Twitter; tone of the conversations (positive, neutral, negative); origin of tweets; etc.  This long-term information allows CanWEA to become aware of trends in social media conversations as it relates to wind energy attitudes, and adjust future campaigns to address them.

Lejla says that, for CanWEA,  combination of Hootsuite and Infomart is serving them well:  the former lets them see the impact of their social media efforts on a short-term basis, while the latter gives them a view of the longre-term trend in the social media conversation around wind energy.

Interview with Lejla Latifovic, CanWEA Communications Officer (note: apologies for poor audio quality)

Lessons for others
Jon Gibs and Ken Allard of Huge, a digital strategy, marketing and design, offer this advice for measuring social media success

• organizations can’t measure their social media success without knowing what their business objectives
• look beyond the return on investment to measure the benefits of social media
• tie results back to business objectives
• metrics are the best way to determine social media efforts impact the customer relationship
• balance acquisition and engagement to avoid alienating fans

{Source: Measuring Success in Social Media}



Infomart {}
Huge {}

Submitted By: Kevin R. Surette – SMBP Student, University of Waterloo.

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