The single answer to every PR measurement question

Katie Delahaye Paine hosts a Q&A on measuring social media, and she shares the most important answer to all your questions.

People are always asking me questions about public relations measurement: “How do I do this or that or the other measurement thing?” Recently, thanks to a speaking engagement at the PR News Measurement Conference, I have come to realize that almost all of these many questions are based on a similar theme and have a similar answer.

When people ask me how to measure ROI, link PR to business goals, or measure on a limited budget, they really are all asking different versions of the same question: “How do I measure what really matters?”

And the one answer to all these questions is: Measure the business impact of your public relations efforts.

The vast majority of public relations measurement questions, problems, and difficulties can be solved with this single strategy: Measure your business impact.

Below are specific questions and answers (most of them thanks to PR News) to do with social media. For questions and answers to do with using measurement to link PR and business goals, see part 1 of this series.

Q: How can I integrate my social media measurement operations with other media measurement operations?

A: Focus on the business benefits. The goals for your program shouldn’t vary that much by type of media. Therefore you should be able to apply similar metrics. For example, if message communication is the goal, you would analyze social and traditional media to determine whether they contain one or more of your key messages. If the goal is to generate responses, you would need to make sure there is a unique response mechanism embedded in your outputs.

Q: With social media, the influence is often distributed out into the field with individual thought leaders building community around their topics. How do you institutionalize the influence if these people leave the organization?

A: You may not be able to. Behind every tweet or Facebook post is a human being with his/her own personality.

Q: If you don’t have a large staff, how do you manage the sheer volume of activity and interactive conversation created by a good social media program. Is it really worth it?

A: Prioritize. Don’t worry about trying to measure everything; measure what matters to your stakeholders, your audience, and your constituents—the people who make a difference to your business or organization. Ask them what they pay attention to and where they go for reliable information. Then focus on those outlets.

Q: What are the most accurate ways to measure blogs, impact of tweets, and online sites of traditional media?

A: I hate to say it, but, “It depends.” The most accurate way to measure anything is to tie it back to organizational objectives. It’s never about counting mentions or tweets; it’s about measuring the impact you’re having on the goals.

Q: What specific social media metrics are the most important to measure?

A: Again, it depends on your objectives for social media. The most frequent metrics we use are based on competitive analysis, so we look at share of favorable positioning, share of desirable versus undesirable conversations, share of thought and leadership quotes.

Q: How do you measure the influence (and not the quantity) of social media?

A: Look at your customer data, customer satisfaction scores, and net promoter scores. Are you having any impact?

Q: What are best practices for the integration of traditional and social media?

A: Define an optimal content score that clearly defines what is “desirable” coverage and what is “undesirable.” Is messaging important? Relationships? Sentiment? Visibility? Define those things first, and then use that standard set of criteria across all media.

Q: How can you get clients who are very much in a traditional advertising CPM mindset to understand the value of Facebook and the value of a “hit” with an online blogger? They have a tough time understanding paid impressions of 20 million versus 10,000 unique visitors to a blog.

A: They need to understand that CPM no longer matters. What matters is actual engagement and interaction. It’s not how many people you reach; it’s how those people that you have reached respond and act. The new rule is to be who you are and see who is pleased, rather than trying to reach everyone with a pulse.

Q: In working for an agency, how do you get corporate clients to understand that Facebook is not “free”? Whether they pay an outside agency or pay an in-house employee, they still have to cover the costs associated with the hours of creating schedules and content for status updates and tabs, preparing for and responding to questions, etc.

A: They pay lawyers and management consultants for content and time, don’t they? What’s the difference?

Q: How can we determine the reach of our social media efforts?

A : Comscore and Compete are good sources of reach numbers.

Q: How has social media changed the PR measurement landscape?

A: It has changed the focus from measuring reach (i.e., impressions), to measuring actual impact on the business.

Katie Delahaye Paine is CEO of KDPaine & Partners, and publisher of The Measurement Standard newsletter, in which this article first appeared. She is the author of “Measure What Matters.”

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