Section 7: Topic 2
The funnel approach
The second approach is still inexpensive, but requires a more significant investment of time, whilst still suffering from the same biases as social media analysis. Using this approach, the media opportunity is used to funnel a proportion of those engaging with the media to a website, social media and/or surveys. Using the funnel as an analogy, the media opportunity is the wide top of the funnel where many people engage, and the media opportunity is used to direct those who are interested towards the bottom of the funnel, where they end up in a targeted place where you have the opportunity to engage directly with them.
Identify or create a target location (the bottom of the funnel) to which you will direct those engaging with the media, for example a website, landing page (of a website) or a social media account.
Direct those engaging with the media to the target location. This is easier to do in live interviews than it is in pre-recorded interviews that will be edited or newspaper articles, where the journalist may edit out the reference to your funnel. In some cases, it is possible to work with production teams to link to free resources at the end of a programme, or to work with their social media team to get links to your funnel put out alongside messages about a broadcast. In the majority of cases where this is not possible, it may be possible to work with your press office to coordinate social media around media activity. With some forward planning, you may be able to line up a few social media influencers with large and relevant followings to amplify these messages at the relevant time, to get further engagement. In this way, it may be possible to capture the interest of a proportion of those engaging with the media, taking them to the funnel. It may be possible to get more engagement if there is a clear benefit of visiting your website, for example exclusive unseen footage, a toolkit or guide, fun quizzes or games, a free e-book or some other benefit you think those engaging with the media would appreciate.
Engage with them once they arrive at your website or social media account. The goal of your engagement is: 1) to deliver further benefits, deepening the impact; and 2) to get their permission to follow-up with them in future to find out more about how they have benefited (from the media engagement and/or their further engagement via your own materials). For example, you might include a quiz to test people’s knowledge based on what they learned from the media they engaged with. Although this does not provide rigorous before/after data, you can ask if they were aware before or if they had only become aware after they engaged with your work via the media. You can also double this up as a Twitter poll to get a larger sample. However, to get more rigorous data, you ideally want to persuade a proportion of those visiting your site to give you their email address (in line with GDPR rules), and those visiting your social media account to follow you. One way to do this is to offer them a resource, with the “payment” being that they provide you with their email address in the understanding that you will follow-up to ask them how they are using what they have downloaded. While you may reduce the number of people who will then download your resource, you will find out the identity of those who do download it and you will be able to ask them questions that can help you improve your resource and get evidence of impact (if they have benefited from its use). As long as they remain on your mailing list, you will also get the opportunity to deepen their interest and generate more impact by providing them with additional resources or opportunities, such as attending public lectures or other events linked to the research and their interests.
Case Study 7: Funnel approach
A researcher studying media and everyday life under communism drew on contacts from her press office and academic colleagues in her university’s School of English to build relationships with a range of TV and radio producers with related interests. This led to a BBC documentary focussed on her work. She couldn’t afford to run a large before/after survey, and the producers weren’t willing to link to her university project website from the programme itself. She therefore worked with her press office to design a social media strategy to amplify the messages from the documentary and capture evidence that people’s understanding and/or attitudes had changed.
On the evening it aired, her press office advertised the documentary across multiple social media channels with a link to her project webpage where viewers could access exclusive additional content. The press office social media received significantly more engagement than the BBC’s own official social media channels thanks to a coordinated campaign to reach key social media influences in advance, so that they shared the press office message to their networks on the evening in question. A Twitter poll, which also appeared on the project website, showed that the majority of people who watched the programme had changed their perceptions of cultural life under communism and said they would be interested in attending an exhibition based on the research. This was supported by a qualitative analysis of social media comments made by viewers during and after the programme.
Those who visited the project website were encouraged to sign up for a newsletter in return for a free exhibition guide which previewed previously unseen images. Those who signed up for the newsletter were given more information about the exhibition and sent a follow-up survey three months later to see how much learning people had retained and if they had acted on what they had learned in any way. As a result, the documentary helped generate interest in the subsequent exhibition, which attracted audiences of Eastern European were previously under-represented in exhibition audiences. A survey at the museum combined with data on visitor numbers and takings provided robust evidence that the researcher’s research had indeed changed how substantial numbers of people viewed media and everyday life under communism.