March 22, 2012

5 steps to set up your measurement program

Shonali BurkeLast week I was in Orlando, Fla., speaking about measurement to the Public Relations Society of America chapter there. And I realized that while I speak and teach often on practical measurement for public relations, I haven’t really written about it here at Socialbrite all that much. So below I’ve outlined my approach. If you have a small budget and don’t have access to fancy dashboards, then this might be especially helpful.

Before getting to that, though, I have a few don’ts.

Things to avoid when measuring

  • Don’t get caught up in shiny new measurement tools. Because then you start trying to measure the tools, and not what you should be focusing on. Experiment, by all means, but don’t get lost in the tools; keep your focus on your objectives and desired outcomes, and select the tools accordingly.
  • Don’t get stuck just counting Twitter followers, Facebook fans, media impressions, yada yada. Note I said “just counting.”
  • Don’t go crazy trying to find the one-size-fits-all measurement solution — because it doesn’t exist.
  • Don’t get caught up in the misguided use of the term ROI (return on investment). ROI is a financial formula and should only be used in that context. You simply cannot try to calculate the value of “likes” on Facebook, for example, in terms of ROI. What you should instead be looking at is whether your activity in social channels is resulting in the kinds of outcomes – actions – your organization needs to succeed.
  • Don’t try to measure influence in terms of scores. Just because a supporter might be deemed “less influential” by virtue of a score, doesn’t really mean that he or she is. We’ve seen time and time again that building community is one of the smartest ways for nonprofits and businesses to use social media. Initiate conversations that will help you. Then look at the outcomes that you’re trying to generate, and see who helped you get closest to those. The answer might surprise you.

5-step exercise in creating a measurement program

Now that you’ve read the don’ts, here’s what to do.

Typically, I undertake this very simple five-step exercise:

1Identify what the business objectives for your program/campaign are. Based on these, what do you need people to do? For a nonprofit organization, for example, it might be to increase members of an online community … because those are the people it can start trying to convert into members/donors.

That last bit is what’s most important. That’s what you’re going to work backward from, because while all roads might not lead to Rome, they should lead to that business objective. Your business objective(s) should be at the core of your measurement program. So before you do anything else, figure them out.

2Identify how you will measure the success or failure of these objectives.
For example, if your objective is to increase sales, what percentage do you want your sales to increase by over the last fiscal year? If you want to increase the number of volunteers working for your nonprofit, then by how much? If your objective is to grow your email list, because that is where you convert the most prospects into customers, by how much do you want to do this? In what time frame? Continue reading