We spend a lot of time in the social media space talking about monitoring, listening, results, ROI, metrics — and justifiably so. As my friend Chuck Hemann recently wrote, “Social media monitoring isn’t sexy. But, it isn’t negotiable.”
What do we mean by monitoring? Or measurement?
For example, I recently heard someone suggest that we should communicate the value of online placements (i.e., blog posts, online news articles) by word count. (Seriously, I couldn’t make that up even if I tried.) Remember when a traditional media placement of 400 words was deemed less valuable than a 1,500 word placement? It seems obvious to me why that metric isn’t applicable to the online world, but it’s not obvious to those just learning about social media and online marketing. (To be honest, I don’t get why it was applicable in the offline world either, but I digress …). I was reminded why when we talk about measuring social media, we need to be much more specific. Otherwise, there are more than a few people who will think it’s perfectly acceptable to apply old metrics to emerging media.
Coincidentally, I came across this video on Rebecca Dennison’s blog. As she said, “If MC Hammer understands that analytics and market research is essential, how long before we all get it? Not to put him down, but if the music industry can use analytics to their advantage, why can’t PR?”
To be fair, there are a number of social media strategists who are brilliant at measurement. But, by and large, I think the majority of people are figuring it out as they go. If PR wants to “own” social media, perhaps we should start by driving the measurement discussion. That means we need to be innovative — applying the old rules to the new tools won’t work. We need to go deeper than buzz words and generalities.
If they haven’t already, savvy business leaders will start to see through the smoke screen if we just keep repeating some version of “measurement and analytics are key.” We need a new “elevator speech” to kick-start a smarter discussion about measurement. Is that even possible? How would you begin to explain what we mean by “measuring social media” and why it’s important, without using jargon? Put it in business terms that make sense to decision-makers.
The comments are yours — let’s see what we can come up with.