10 Pointers for Navigating the Measurement Maze

High Line Punctuation Sculpture FinalSince measurement is such an integral yet complex part of PR and social media, it has merited an entire week of events in New York. Cision Vocus is hosting morning sessions as part of AMEC Measurement Week 2014. PRNewser is following suit with the continuation of a multi-part series on the topic with featured event speakers. Recently we explored measurement’s future with Rebekah Iliff of AirPR and with Peter Himler of Flatiron Communications.

Now we’re reporting on yesterday’s presentation with Mark Schaefer, author and founder of Schaefer Marketing Solutions as well as a panel moderated by Himler that included Heidi Sullivan of Cision Vocus, Shonali Burke of Shonali Burke Consulting, Chris Penn of Shift Communications and Sharam Fouladger-Mercer of AirPR. They had different takes on various aspects of measurement and metrics, as captured in selected comments:

1. Measure or perish:

In response to those who say you don’t need to measure social media: There’s an implied value to everything and you’d better measure it. (Schaefer)

2. Re-focus on dual value:

Much social media value that’s created is qualitative, not quantitative. Intangible business benefits include building worthwhile relationships and increasing brand awareness. We spend too much time on spreadsheets, not on the human pulse of social media. (Schaefer)

3. Be Aware of the evolution of metrics:

Don’t just take old metrics and put them into new contexts without trying to understand what you’re attempting to measure. (Burke)

4. Set realistic goals:

The job of PR is to create and strengthen audience relationships, so the marketing output that matters should be lead generation. PR professionals shouldn’t be held accountable for the skills of their sales team. (Penn)

5. Focus on the longevity of PR:

PR lives on in perpetuity in terms of digital news generated. Much content is evergreen, so readers keep clicking long after articles first appear. Therefore, engagement metrics should reflect that and measure PR from a longer term perspective. (Fouladger-Mercer)

6. Check out the action:

Now we’re sitting on lots more data than in the days of print reader pass-along rates, and we receive aggregated newsfeeds in real-time. PR is a profit center and not a cost center, so we need to look at actions that impact the bottom line. (Sullivan)

Since social media helps connect brands to customers, two-way relationships are needed, where social media becomes a catalyst for action. It’s important to focus on measurements that enhance relationships with your audience as they move up the engagement curve. These “conversions to reliable reach” happen over time. (Schaefer)

7. Aim for conversation changers:

Companies should also look for conversations that influence popular culture. Consumer brands such as Pepsi and Coca-Cola have content-rich websites focusing on categories like music. Over time, share of conversations leads to increases in market share. (Schaefer)

8. Stay succinct with search bytes:

Since consumer attention spans are low these days, 2-6 word soundbytes are recommended for online search terms. These brief soundbytes should also be measured. (Fouladger-Mercer)

9. Relevance rules:

Sometimes it’s not about ROI, it’s about relevance. Many companies missed out on launching digital versions of their content. For example Rand-McNally Atlas, with vast geographical expertise, never introduced mapping apps. (Schaefer)

10. Simplicity beats complexity:

Above all, keep it simple and there’s not necessarily a need to get too sophisticated with super complicated dashboards. (Burke)