Photo credit: Buzzfeed Motion Pictures

Last week, we witnessed another major milestone in presidential digital media: President Barack Obama appeared in a BuzzFeed video.

The BuzzFeed Video division wanted to interview the President for a number of months; the White House was interested in pushing for more registrations on Healthcare.gov before the February 15 deadline. It was kismet.

The video itself was amusing, positioning the President as something of a pop culture icon – an image that this administration has been successfully achieving in its own use of digital media for a few years.

But a summary in the WSJ’s CMO Today news digest managed to make us sit up and take notice:

For Mr. Obama’s purposes, the video seems to have worked well. It was posted on the BuzzFeed Video Facebook page at 11:50 a.m. Thursday and, in a little over 24 hours, had accrued more than 23 million views, 600,000 likes and 40,000 comments. [Emphasis ours – ed.]

It worked well? “For Mr. Obama’s purposes?”

Pardon us if our left eye is twitching uncontrollably.

For all we’ve written about the importance of understanding your KPIs and measuring things that drive business results, it’s astounding that the crude metrics of views, likes and comments are given credence as a sign of effectiveness in this case. Particularly when a very obvious and easily measurable KPI such as new registrants on healthcare.gov would not only make more sense, but would actually deliver on what the President’s purpose of creating such a video would be.

Even if full registration data hasn’t been compiled yet, outlets covering this news (and the PR teams pitching it) could have been looking at other indicators of intent besides views and likes. For example, they could have examined the number of people who searched for Healthcare.gov in the last 90 days on Google Trends:


They could have looked at the number of times people clicked on links shared to Healthcare.gov, which are actual visitors to the site, via bit.ly*:


Both of these metrics are closer to the actual goal of new registrations than just video views alone. Measure what matters! Even if you don’t have the final data, measure as close to the goal as you possibly can.

Let’s hope that the reporting on metrics and outcomes gives more clarity on efficacy in the near future.

* Disclosure: Bit.ly is a SHIFT client; however, SHIFT used Bit.ly’s publicly provided APIs to acquire this data, not through our relationship with the client.

Scott Monty
EVP, Strategy


Keep in Touch

Want fresh perspective on communications trends & strategy? Sign up for the SHIFT/ahead newsletter.

Ready to shift ahead?

Let's talk