Measuring the Online Impact of Your Information Projects

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Journalism, Media Innovation


The Knight Community Information Challenge (KCIC) supports organizations implementing and funding projects that address community information. Generally, these organizations have struggled to understand the impact of their efforts, especially pertaining to engaging online audiences. Knight decided to produce a manual that would:

  • Build a better understanding of how funders and their implementation partners were reaching and engaging audiences online through websites and social media.

  • Identify metrics that would be relevant and meaningful for understanding the progress and impact of projects creating more informed and engaged communities.

Report Partners: The report was produced in partnership with FSG Social Impact Advisors and independent web analytics consultant and journalism professor Dana Chinn.


Basic Performance Metrics – Community media and information sites should assess impact using metrics that indicate growth, penetration and engagement for specific audience segments. The guide suggests helpful metrics to start collecting.

Aligning Metrics to Website Goals – Clear and specific goals should indicate to project teams what to measure. The guide illustrates four types of goals: Audience, Content, Sustainability and Social Media.

Analytics in Practice – Organizations should enter into this process with a sound understanding of what data are meaningful to measure and what resources are required to perform measurement effectively. Key steps include:

  • Clarify and refine site audience segments and goals.

  • Identify the staff time that can be committed to web and social media analytics.

  • Monitor site traffic metrics at least weekly.

  • Get basic training on Google Analytics (or other system).

  • Revise site content, design and code based on prioritized audience segments and data needed.

Web & Social Media Analytics Tools – The guide also references a set of tools that may be useful for collecting and analyzing online metrics.

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