June 14, 2011

7 tips & a grid for social media measurement

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Guest post by Beth Kanter

Last week public relations and measurement professionals met in Lisbon, Portugal, for a summit hosted by the International Association for Measurement and Evaluation of Communications. Of interest was an workshop that was designed to begin setting the standards in social media measurement co-facilitated by KD Paine, an expert in communications and social media measurement.

The workshop shared a landscape analysis of what’s already out there from the various industries to build a clear understanding of what’s in place and what isn’t in terms of valid metrics around social media measurement.

Download the 18-page document (PDF) here.

The workshop built on the Barcelona Declaration of Measurement Principles (PDF) that were identified at last year’s summit. These are more philosophical but represent good practice for a measurement approach to accompany your social media strategy.

Applying a valid measurement approach for nonprofits

I took a stab at translating them to a nonprofit context:

1Set SMART objectives and identify a measurement strategy at the start of your campaign or program. Social media measurement should take a holistic approach including both traditional and social media and look at changes in awareness among key audiences, attitude, action and behavior change that impacts business results.

2Measure the effect on outcomes, don’t measure outputs. Measure your results, not just numbers. A typical output measure might be the number of visitors to a website or participants in a program. What should be measured are shifts in awareness, comprehension, attitude and behavior related to donations, purchase, branding, reputation, public policy, employee engagement and other shifts in audience beliefs or behaviors related to SMART objectives.

3Measure the effect on business results where possible. The confusion around whether or not you can measure social media has moved from “you can’t measure social media” to figuring out what to measure.

4Media measurement requires quantity and quality. This principle is about measuring both quantative and qualitative information. It’s more than just impressions — you should also look at measuring tone, relevance, message delivery and sentiment.

5Beware bogus metrics. AVE stands for “Advertising Value Equivalents” or as KD Paine likes to call it “Assessment By Voodoo Economics.” This is using bogus social media metrics to translate into some value. Geoff Livingston has a good post about the problems with this – using influence as the metric.

6Social media can and should be measured. Incorporate the discipline of measurement into your approach to go beyond just measuring “coverage” but also to measure conversation and communities. We’ve come a long way since the early days of social media in terms of measurement practice.

7Transparency and replicability are paramount to sound measurement. Measurement methods need to be shared as well as how specific metrics are calculated.

Putting principles into action: A valid metrics matrix

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The Valid Metrics Framework was developed by AMEC to serve as a framework to identify possible metrics for measuring a communications program. These are simply guidelines to help think through what to measure – or what metrics will help your organization demonstrate progress toward an objective.

The Valid Metrics Framework looks at communications in three phases with each consisting of specific metrics.

  1. The messages or story is created and shared: Metrics are related to the process of producing or sharing the desired message or story.
  2. The story is shared via an intermediary – journalists, bloggers, or influencers, with metrics reflecting the sharing of the message with the target audience.
  3. The story is consumed by the target audience that leads to action and desired outcome: Metrics showing that the target audience has received the message and been inspired to take action.

The other part of the matrix includes a continuum based on the “marketing funnel” — or, for nonprofits, the “ladder of engagement” — going from awareness to understanding, consideration, support and action. (See image at very top.)

The document includes examples from different industries, including nonprofit organizations and for advocacy campaigns.

How would your nonprofit use this matrix to help measure and guide strategy formation? How would you adapt the matrix or resulting measurement strategy to fit your organization’s capacity?

This article originally appeared at bethkanter.org and is released under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license.

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