Gorkana Insight & Analysis Team
Richard Bagnall, Insights Director at Gorkana and chair of AMEC’s Social Media Measurement Group, on a new initiative to help PRs measure social media credibly, and why he wants everyone to get involved.
The finest measurement minds from around the world met at a summit in Dublin recently to come up with some all-important global social media measurement standards – what prompted the session?
The rapid rise in the importance of social media over the last five to seven years had led to a proliferation of companies claiming to sell tools and platforms to monitor and measure its effectiveness. All these tools worked in different ways. Most of them were developed by SAAS organisations with no expertise in how to measure communications effectively. As a result they were attempting to reinvent the wheel.
Without strong leadership from the PR measurement industry led by AMEC, we faced the prospect of being bombed back into the dark ages of PR measurement. The days when AVEs, proprietary scores and peculiar weighting systems all focussed on measuring outputs alone could pass for credible communications measurement. This was frustrating as the PR industry had, since the declaration of the Barcelona Principles, been making great strides forward on measuring what matters.
Talk us through the three big deliverables coming out of the summit session…
One of the most pressing needs was to get rid of confusion. Clients rightfully wanted to know why it was that different measurement services would report back different results on the same campaign. There are many and varied reasons for this, not least starting with the monitoring.
Search strings are crucial, and the different tools all pick up different levels of content from the social media channels that they cover. For example, which level of the twitter firehose do they include? How do they cope with spam? How much duplication is there? What do they include as a unit of content to be measured? These and many other questions all affect the results that are produced.
To resolve this, the first deliverable from the conference was the launch of the AMEC report glossary, a transparency table to be used in all good social media reports. This table ensures that a supplier is transparent about all these questions and a client can see easily exactly what data lies behind their information. Importantly it allows for different competing organisations to continue to work with their unique approaches as applicable. Insist that your measurement supplier includes it!
The second deliverable also revolves around transparency and it is to do with the use of language in reporting. Terminology is too often used incorrectly by different social media measurement suppliers and this further confuses the marketplace. AMEC used some of the top experts in the field to draw up a plain speaking guide to social media measurement. It’s available on AMEC’s website, please take a look, promote it and use it. The sooner we all mean what we say and say what we mean, the sooner we will be able to help reduce confusion.
The third key deliverable was an updated version of a social media valid metrics framework. Measuring social media effectively is never going to be about one number, or a dashboard of retweets and Facebook likes. As with all communication programmes, successful measurement needs to focus on understanding what the specific objectives of the campaign were and applying a suite of credible, relevant and valid metrics against this. AMEC’s updated social media measurement framework does just this.
The three deliverables are available now on AMEC’s website.
What are you hoping they will achieve?
Our biggest hope is that they will go some way to minimizing the confusion that exists in the industry, help to clarify the PR industry’s thinking on the subject and as such play an important part in the drive to educate business on how to measure social media credibly. An important step in the drive to share best practice about all tenets of social media from planning to implementation to measurement was taken this week with the launch of the CIPR book, ‘Share This: The Social Media Handbook for PR Professionals’ which is available for purchase now.
Why are so many PRs still getting social media measurement wrong?
Although social media in the form we think of it today has been around since the mid 2000s, to a surprising number of organisations, it is still a very new tool. There are more than 200 organisations claiming to offer social media monitoring and measurement and most of these are not experts in the PR and communications field. It’s no wonder that mistakes get made.
Why do you think the industry has been so slow putting in place proper metrics for measuring social media activity?
Moving towards social media measurement standards will, by necessity, be a long process. The nature of the modern world means we need to bring global organisations with us, all of whom are running at different speeds. We need to educate all stakeholders on better techniques and methods to measure their social media efforts. This is a time consuming but important process.
What’s next for social media measurement?
We recognise that the work to date is just the tip of the iceberg. It was important to get everyone talking the same language, understanding what data sits behind their reporting and focussing on measuring in a manner that is credible and objective-based. Now that we have laid the groundwork for this, the next steps are to develop this further. AMEC is continuing to work with other global bodies from inside and outside the PR industry looking at how best to measure:
• Reach and impressions
• Influence and Relevance
• Impact and Value
We aim to work on these one at a time with the next developments scheduled to be unveiled at the PRSA International conference in October.
This is a massive process and it’s important that it is a collaborative effort. We want to hear from you! AMEC’s social media measurement group members are all on twitter here: https://twitter.com/#!/richardbagnall/amec-some-metrics-group/members and there is also the opportunity to contact us through the Plain speaking guide to social media page on AMEC’s website.
Richard Bagnall is Insights Director at Gorkana and chair of AMEC’s Social Media Measurement Group. Richard can be contacted through Twitter at www.twitter.com/richardbagnall.