Tactical Versus Strategic Metrics

In the Dave Karpf reading, Measuring the Success of Digital Campaigns, the author analyzes the differences in the measures used to gauge levels of digital activism. Karpf discusses tactical and strategic metrics, and he argues that activism is often too heavily rooted in the analysis of the tactical measurements. Tactical metrics focus on the quantitative elements of activism like number of twitter followers or online petition signatures. Karpf argues that while the tactical measurements provide numbers that illustrate action that greater importance should be placed on strategic measurements because they highlight the level of success of digital activism.

This exploration of the importance of the strategic metric in relation to Karf’s discussion of tactical measurements led me to reflect on an example from chapter one of Clay Shirky’s Here Comes Everybody. Shirky provides an introductory example that explores the process of one inspired digital activist’s quest to retrieve his friends lost cell phone. It is relevant to look at this example first in terms of strategic metrics. The activist in the example was named Evan and he was able to utilize the internet and social media in ways that engaged followers and utilized strategic metrics, but what if Evan tackled this phone recovery mission in a way that focused more on the components of tactical metrics? Clearly this example from Shirky illustrates that Evan was savvy on the internet, but the fact that he employed bulletin boards that allowed his followers to interact and easily spread the story of his friend’s lost phone were important strategic metrics. If Evan had simply created an online petition and acquired signatures, even if he received millions of them, little would have been accomplished in the pursuit of the lost phone. Evan’s success clearly stems from the quality of his activism that was a blend of tactical metrics, the massive following he established, and strategic metrics, the interactive tools that he utilized to ignite a successful movement.

Finally it is relevant to briefly discuss the concept of “slacktivism” that was discussed in class. This idea of “slacktivism” that makes individuals feel like they are contributing to a cause or society, but are really only voting in polls or twittering can clearly be linked to this concept of tactical metrics. Are there any examples of digital activism that are mainly focused upon tactical metrics that have gone on to find significant success?

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