Tag Archives: social media

Social Media Measurement at a Crossroads

25 Jul

Please join me on August 6, from 2:00 – 3:00pm EDT for CARMA’s fourth quarterly webinar, co-sponsored by PRNews, titled “Social Media Measurement at a Crossroads.” Here is a little more information on the webinar:

With social media clearly entrenched as a mainstream business activity, the need to measure the impact on the organization has never been greater. While social media practitioners talk about Like or Follower growth, organizations want to understand how social media is helping drive the business or cause forward. 

Another challenge in social media measurement is the lack of standard definitions, approaches and metrics. In response, a cross-industry push to define social media standards was initiated and initial standards recently published. Social media measurement is clearly at a crossroads where new thinking and approaches are emerging.

In this session you will learn:

  • How to align KPIs and metrics to demonstrate organizational impact and value. 
  • What industry efforts are being made toward standardization and the implications for how you approach social media measurement
  • New models, metrics and frameworks you can use today to develop more effective social media measurement programs.

I will be joined by PRNews Group Editor Matthew Schwartz, who will moderate the discussion and lead a Q&A session.

Here is a link to register for the session. Feel free to leave a comment with any questions you would like answered during the webinar and I will do my best to address them. Hope you can join!

New Framework for Social Media Measurement – Update & Debate

21 Jun

The complete presentation, including speaker notes, I gave at the AMEC Summit in Madrid on June 7 introducing the AMEC Social Media Valid Framework is now available for download here. Please visit and download the slides if you are interested.

Whenever you throw a new idea or concept out there you really hope people see it. And you really, really hope they care enough about it to comment. Or better still, to challenge it and debate its merits. Simply put, critical thinking makes the concept better. Enter stage left, our provocateur, Philip Sheldrake, author of The Business of Influence. Philip has also been an active thought leader in the whole push toward social media standards through AMEC committees and the work of The Conclave. I respect his opinion very much. Philip wrote a rather long essay on his blog in response to my original post on the new Valid Framework for Social Media. Richard Bagnall, Chairman of the Social Media Measurement committee of AMEC posted a response to some of Philip’s concerns. I would like to address a few others now.  

First, one area I am not going to address in this post is whether or not any framework for social media measurement should be driven by Business Performance Management (BPM) principles and approaches. That subject is being debated very well in the comments under Philip’s original post – pretty interesting thread.

Stakeholders v. Customers v. Audiences

Philip questions if the framework, based on the words chosen to describe it, is oriented more toward customers (i.e. social media marketing) and not the broader concept of stakeholders. The intent was and is the make the framework broad enough to comprehend the majority of use cases for social media. Marketing is just one of the use cases. To be fair, the use of ‘audience’ in the description of Impact is a direct lift from the proposed standards document. We were trying to not reinvent the wheel. That said, I agree with you that saying stakeholders or publics is a more accurate description than ‘audience’ in many cases.

Influence

Hard to argue about influence with the guy who wrote a book on it, so I won’t. Philip makes the point that the model offers a definition of influence (Ability to cause or contribute to a change in opinion or behavior) but does not include the qualifying statements or concepts from the WOMMA Guidebook – the potential to influence (before) and the actual, observed influence (during/after). He goes on to say he prefers emphasis on the second. Fully agree. The short definition was offered for clarity and brevity. We will plan to reword this slightly to broaden. You’ll note the illustrative metrics shown in the framework with metrics are consistent with the during/after (e.g. change in purchase consideration) rather than before orientation. If you think about it, the before piece is really about targeting (who are the influencers we should engage?) rather than measurement (did we change opinion, attitudes or behavior of our target stakeholders?).

Value

Philip makes the point that in the model verbiage, the only reference to Value was financial impact whilst the standards definition reads, “the importance, worth or usefulness of something”. Philip also acknowledges this definition was a “last minute tweak”. It was actually being debated as the slides were being developed. We’ll broaden the definition to include tangible and intangible value to be in lock-step with the standards document.

Advocacy

Philip poses two great questions regarding this phase. His first point is a good model that includes advocacy should also be able to comprehend opposition and advocacy for competing agendas. Fully agree these are important to consider and the model certainly does not preclude that. Comprehending these factors would be addressed by one or more metrics within the framework (e.g. Net Positive Advocacy – positive minus negative advocacy) or simply as a point of analysis rather than measurement per se.

Philip’s second question is simply why Advocacy is shown after Impact. It is shown in this order to recognize the fact that most advocacy actually occurs post impact or conversion event. For example, in a sales context, advocacy generally occurs after someone has bought and had great experiences with the product or service. To be more accurate, we might also show Advocacy after Influence and before Impact. Certainly issue advocacy often happens as a direct outcome of a change in opinion or attitude. Rather than show it in two places, to keep it simple, we choose to show it in the sequence where it is most relevant. In practice one could have both pre and post-impact advocacy metrics in your measurement plan.  

Paid Owned Earned  

Philip simply questions the strategic value of this taxonomy and says it props-up organizational silos and reinforces misconceptions such as PR equals (only) Earned Media. I think the questions are valid ones. But as a practical matter many companies and organizations do use the taxonomy. That is a key reason why it is one of the framework alternatives. And while it can reinforce silos and misperceptions, I have actually seen it have the opposite impact – it recognizes integrated programs require integrated measurement and bring three key elements (different departments and sometimes different agencies) together under a common framework. Interestingly in PR, we now routinely develop programs that include earned, paid and owned elements. This reinforces the positive perception public relations today is not simply equal to earned media.

Impact

Finally, Philip questions whether any framework can consider programmatic-level or channel-specific metrics in terms of Impact. I think it can and does. Impact refers to outcomes. We can have macro and micro conversions. And we can have outcomes that are specific to programs (e.g. event attendance, voter registrations, subscriptions to a content series) or channels (download a whitepaper from the website); although I will agree there will be few channel-specific outcomes.

Keep in mind the metrics shown in the frameworks are illustrative, as Richard pointed out in his remarks, they are not meant to be exhaustive, definitive or recommended. They are illustrative of the emerging standard metrics for social media.

 

Thanks for caring.  

A New Framework for Social Media Metrics and Measurement

12 Jun

Last week in Madrid, AMEC (International Association for the Measurement and Evaluation of Communications) held their 5th European Summit on Measurement. This one was entitled, Unlocking Business Performance – Communications research and analytics in action. One underlying premise of the program this year was that the time for talk is behind us and the time for action and putting into place the principles and practices of sound measurement is upon us. The later part of the program featured an update from Salience Insight Commercial Director Mike Daniels on social media standards including the recently published standardization effort from the cross-industry group called The Conclave which may be found here.

Once Mike discussed where we are with respect to standardization, Richard Bagnall (@richardbagnall), Chairman of the AMEC Social Media Measurement Group, and I as his vice-chair, presented a session on creating a new recommended framework for social media metrics and measurement. Essentially we tried to answer the question: how do we take the standards work coming from The Conclave and operationalize it to create proper social media measurement? Here is an overview of what we presented and what we are encouraging everyone to adopt and use. The framework templates, usage guide and a short video synopsis will be available for download from the AMEC website, Social Media Measurement section, in the next week or so.

Valid Metrics Framework and Social Media

Our journey begins with the Valid Metrics Framework, a measurement planning framework and template developed under the auspices of AMEC. The framework was designed to be flexible enough to address multiple aspects of public relations within a consistent measurement framework and approach.

VMFII

Some of the most positive aspects of the Valid Metrics Framework are that it:

  • Provides a mechanism to link activities to outputs to outcomes
  • Tracks through the familiar sales funnel
  • Helps create a focus on outcomes.

One of the applications of the Valid Metrics Framework was for use with social media programs. Two potential issues were surfaced by early adopters of the framework in social programs. The intermediary effect, which in traditional public relations is the impact on the media, seemed at odds with the social world of direct interaction between consumers and brands, and consumers with each other. And use of the marketing sales funnel, while familiar, was only relevant in a percentage of social media use cases and perhaps not the best way to model common uses of social media like customer relations and building relationships with stakeholder groups. Also, thought leaders like Forrester Research and McKinsey & Company had noted the traditional communications funnel was not necessarily funnel-shaped in social media. They described the discovery process that occurs when investigating companies and brands that often cause the consideration set to expand rather than be reduced, and the fact that a lot of engagement around brands happens post-conversion event. For all of these reasons our task was develop and recommend a better framework and approach.

Models and Frameworks

When we use the word model, we are referring to a representation of a system, in this case social media. In the original Valid Metrics Framework, the model used was the traditional sales funnel. A framework adds additional dimensions to the model and is operationalized with metrics. In the Valid Metrics Framework the additional dimensions are the phases – activities, intermediary effects and target audience effects. We looked at both of these aspects individually and collectively when considering alternative approaches.

We studied and evaluated about fifteen different social media and communications models. A couple of common patterns emerged. Several of the models, including Forrester’s Customer Lifecycle and McKinsey’s Customer Journey showed a post-purchase engagement/experience step. We judged this important to include in our recommended approach. And we considered the importance of Engagement and Influence, as two key concepts in social media marketing and measurement, and decided to try to make these two elements explicit in our model as well.

Suggested Social Media Metrics Model

The model we developed is derivative of the categories chosen by The Conclave (Note: Richard Bagnall and I also participate in The Conclave) to organize social media metrics and definitions. We took a slightly different perspective on the front end of the model and reordered the back-end to create this model for our new framework. The descriptions of the stages use the definitions from the smmstandrards.org work wherever possible.

New Model

You will note Engagement includes both interactions with owned social channels as well as earned social conversation of people ‘talking about you’ in social channels. The definition of Influence is clear and concise, the result of a lot of discussion and prevailing clear thinking. The concept of Impact includes the outcomes of social initiatives as well as the Value those initiatives created. (I usually advise to always attempt to measure impact, and attribute value when it is feasible and makes sense.) Advocacy includes a very helpful definition and conditions that exist with advocacy.

Creating the Framework

To create the framework, we explored various ways to address the ‘phases’ of the Valid Metrics Framework. Two ideas stood out:

  • Use a simple structure that captures social media metrics from three key perspectives – programmatic-level, channel-specific and business. Programmatic metrics are those directly tied to social media objectives. Channel-specific metrics are just that, the metrics that are unique to specific social channels – tweets, RTs, Followers, Likes, Talking About This, Pins, Re-Pins. Business metrics are used to show the business impact of the campaign or initiative.
  • Use Paid, Owned, and Earned media metrics for integrated programs containing these elements. Borrowing the definitions from Forrester, Paid are social channels you pay to leverage (e.g. promoted tweets, display ads), Owned are channels you own and control (e.g. website, Facebook page) and Earned is where customers become the channel (e.g. WOM, viral)

There are certainly other ways to think about this (e.g. Business Performance Management) and we intend to possibly add others based on industry feedback and suggestions.

The AMEC Social Media Valid Framework

Currently we have developed both versions with sample metrics (taken from the smmstandards.org work where applicable). We are calling them The AMEC Social Media Valid Framework. Here is the version with Program, Channel and Business Metrics shown.

Valid Metrics Framwork

Where Do We Go From Here?

Look for the completed frameworks on the AMEC website shortly. We encourage you to adopt the frameworks for use by your company or clients. If you like them and find them useful, please help promote them widely. And please provide your feedback on the proposed framework on this blog, or through the social channel of your choice. We’re listening and looking forward to the dialogue.

How Much Does a House Cost?

8 Nov

I don’t come from the “there are no dumb questions” school.  For example, in an academic environment, I would define a ‘dumb question’ as one in which the answer should be easily known had the student read the assignment or attended the previous class.  There are a lot of dumb questions asked all the time and social media gets more than its share of these.  Many of them are specific to social media measurement/ROI.  For example:

  • Which has higher ROI, Twitter or Facebook?
  • What ROI should I expect from Twitter?
  • How do I measure the ROI of social media?

The flip answer to all these questions is, it depends.  All results are contextual.  Results are also specific.  While industry averages may be interesting, averages mask any real meaning for an individual brand or company.  They result in ‘one size fits none’ thinking.  Let’s go back to our house analogy and bring this to life.  The cost of a house depends on several factors:

  • Where is the house located?  You’ll need to know the city and the specific neighborhood.  You may also want to know which block the house is on within a given neighborhood.
  • How large is the house in terms of square feet?
  • How large is the lot?
  • Is the house new or previously owned?
  • In what condition is the house?
  • What is the level of finish-out?  For example, granite versus tile countertops.  High-end appliances or mid-range?
  • What are the desirable or unique features of the house?

In social media measurement we have our own list of questions to ask before attempting to answer generally stated questions about measurement and ROI:

  • What brand/company are we speaking about?  The answers for a well-established cult brand will be very different from those of a less well-established brand.  Answers for eCommerce companies will vary from those of B2B companies.  Answers will also vary by industry segment.
  • How long has the brand/company been participating in social networks?
  • How much investment in social media marketing – time and money – has the brand/company made?  What has been the level of effort?
  • What other communications channels (e.g. advertising, direct, search, public relations) are being utilized in parallel with social marketing?
  • What is our point of view on the role of social media in the marketing mix?  For example, is the role of social media primarily to drive exposure to content or is the program or initiative designed to drive conversion events through social channels?
  • What were/are the specific objectives of the program or initiative?

This last question is especially important because measurement is fundamentally about assessing performance against stated objectives.  When someone asks you how to measure something in social media your first response should always be this question – What were the specific objectives of the program or initiative?

The question of when to expect a return on social media efforts is also an interesting one.  Brands often expect an immediate ROI on social media efforts.  Social media marketing is a process not an event.  Too often people forget about the ‘I’ aspect of ROI – you usually have to make an investment in resources and time before you can drive a return.  It is wise to listen to social conversations before engaging, and build your presence and trust before trying to drive conversion events.  Listen and learn and then convert.  I would argue the majority of social media efforts today are likely in the investment phase and not the return phase.  It is somewhat unfair in these cases for the social media effort to be held to an ROI standard in the short-term.  Measuring impact rather than ROI is advised.  Perhaps we can add another question to our list of dumb social media ROI questions – ‘What ROI should we expect in the first year of our social media initiative?’

If you are one of the prescient humans who has a crystal ball that enables you to answer the ‘how much does a house cost’ question, I have another question for you, ‘how long is a string?’

A 30,000-Foot View of Social Media Measurement

2 Jul

Look back five years and the PR measurement field was full of challenges:

- Emphasis on media relations at the exclusion of other high-value PR activities, almost always
- Oriented toward outputs and not outcomes, consisting
- Primarily of media content analysis, with
- Little primary audience research, and
- No codified thinking on how to approach ROI determination.

Now add social media.  Old metrics like Impressions lose meaning.   It’s about engagement and not 450px-Cloudseyeballs.  Consumers have broad platforms to voice opinions about your brand.  Conversations are more effective than messages.  So needless to say, social media measurement is a highly fluid, and rapidly evolving field.  Lots of opinions, not much consensus.  Here is where I believe we are at a high level.

Early efforts to measure digital and social media focused almost exclusively on web analytics.  I would say the majority (80%?) of social media measurement in 2009 still focuses on web analytics, although many other forms of data and research are being used by leading organizations and practitioners.

Today, the frontier in social media measurement is evolving toward measuring the conversations and behavior patterns occurring within social networks.  The third area of interest is in tracking and connecting online and offline behavior and actions.  Here is a simple graphic (you may have a much better way of showing this) that shows these three primary interest areas, or zones, for social media measurement.

30,000Meas.pptx
From the left, companies or brands control, own or manage websites  – corporate sites, FaceBook pages, Twitter accounts, LinkedIn pages and blogs by way of example – and create content that consumers may engage with.  This zone is measured primarily by web analytics.  In the middle are the actual social networks and conversations between individuals.   In this zone we are interested in data sets that cannot be gathered solely using web analytics packages.  How often is the brand being mentioned in conversation?  What is the sentiment of the comments?  How often is the brand being recommended and by whom?  Content and behavior analysis, including tracking technologies, are the primary measurement tools in this zone.  The third zone represents all the real-world, offline transactions that may be of interest.  Did someone visit the store or attend or event?  Did they buy a product?  Did they recommend the brand or product to a friend over coffee?  Primary audience research is necessary to address many of the questions, as well as scan or other purchase data in some cases.

Although I have attempted to define three distinct zones of measurement necessary to address the full spectrum of social media impact and ROI, your measurement strategy should be to take a holistic, integrated approach using methodologies, tools and data from all three zones.  The Holy Grail in many ways is to be able to track behavior of individuals across all three zones, cross-platform, understanding how online behavior impacts offline behavior and vice-versa.  It won’t take five years to get there.

Social Media Haiku

26 Mar

A little silliness for a Thursday afternoon…compiled from my Twitter series.

Good Is Never Easy

Social Media
Is Not Easily Measured
But We Must All Try.

Engagement Not Eyeballs

Engagement Is Key
But How To Best Measure It?
Not By Counting Clips!

Trust Me, It Works

Social Media
ROI Not Understood
Just Trust It’s Working?

Social Media in Public Relations Survey

30 Oct

The Institute for Public Relations (IPR) is conducting their fourth annual survey on the impact of blogs and other social media on the practice of public relations.  If you are a public relations professional with a viewpoint to share, I know the IPR would love to have you participate in the survey.

The survey can be found here.

In the event the above link is not highlighted, please copy and paste it into your web browser.
The plan is to present results of this year’s study at the IPRRC conference in Miami in March.

Thanks for participating.  -Don B

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