Everything you need to know about emerging Social Media Measurement Standards
Our clients have been demanding some set of standard definitions for years. A recent interaction with a client revealed the client called reach, we call Opportunities to See, what she was calling placement, we call items. What we call placement doesn’t matter to the client at all. This is why we need standards confusing array of terminology has befuddled clients and slowed progress towards more robust measurement.
Which are why, in early 2011, the members of the IPR Measurement Commission, AMEC, PRSA and the Council of PR Firms began work on a set of standards for both traditional and social media measurement.
Any standard setting process takes an unbelievable number of late night and early morning intercontinental phone calls on top of some solid thoughtful time to sort out just exactly what is going to be a standard or a guideline or a best practice.
We started where the Barcelona principles left off. Principle #6 said that “social media can and should be measured.” In 2011, attendees at the Lisbon Summit made defining those social media measurement as its number one priority. This past June, our committee put forth the first of our proposed standards.
It’s important to understand that these standards are being set not just by PR professionals but rather are part of a far broader effort called The Conclave that includes the Word of Mouth Marketing Association, the Media Ratings Council, IABC, Digital Analytics Association, Interactive Advertising Bureau, Advertising Research Foundation and others (see below)
The approach the Conclave agreed to last fall was to divide the need for standards into five broad categories and tackle each one individual in this order.
- Reach & Impressions
- Influence & Relevance
- Impact & Value
The first we tackled was Content – as in what constitutes content and where it comes from. After realizing the scope of possibilities for content definition, the best approach would be to call for a transparency table, essentially the social media equivalent of that food nutrition label on the side of a cereal box. Here is that label, and as you can see it doesn’t recommend one specific way of doing things, but rather provides for the client, a reference so he or she knows what is comparable between vendors.
Specifically, the table captures critical information about social media content sources and methods to provide full transparency and easy comparison across analyses: What content and channels are included? How is the data collected? How deep is the analysis? Are multiple languages captured? Via native-language queries? How are key metrics calculated for reach, engagement, influence and opinion/advocacy? How is sentiment coded? How is irrelevant content (bots, spam blogs, etc.) filtered? What proprietary methods were used in the analysis? What search strings were used?
Beyond the Transparency Table, we are currently tackling the issues of Reach & Impressions; and Engagement with a goal of having standards available by the next Conclave meeting October 3rd. The topics of Influence & Relevance will be tackled later in the fall and we’ll explore Impact & Value early in 2013.
Now that the Transparency Table has been published as a proposed interim standard, we will work with major clients, agencies, research providers and software vendors to get their commitments to use the table, include it in their reports and capture their feedback on what works and what needs refinement. That feedback will then fuel modifications as needed for review by Conclave members to deliver a formal “approved industry standard” later this year. While the table itself may seem straightforward, we believe it will play a critical foundational role for clients who need clarity and transparency from their providers — and enable better education of the industry about critical content sourcing and methodology issues that are fundamental to sound social media analysis.
We look forward to your input and feedback. What do you think about our priorities? How will you use the Transparency Table? Is our preliminary guidance on target? What are we missing?
For more information, follow the posts at www.smmstandards.org
Author: K.D. Paine, CMO, News Group International.