It seems that almost all of my conversations lately have been about the need for some sort of standard metrics for social media measurement. My response is always the same as it has been for the last 2 decades of measuring communications: There can be no standard because there is no standard goal for "communications." Yes, there may have been a standard way to count eyeballs in print and television, (and the accuracy of that can be debated) but just reaching eyeballs is seldom the goal for a good strategic communications program, and the goal always drives the selection of your measurement tool. If you're the PR Manager for Mothers Against Drunk Driving, your goal is members, contributions and ultimately fewer drunk drivers, and fewer deaths. If you're Southwest airlines, it might be ticket sales. If you're the National Association of Manufacturers, the goal is influence and access to Capital Hill. If the goal is to improve relationships with your customers, you need to measure engagement. So establishing a standard metric for such diverse goals is clearly a waste of time. Each communicator needs to decide for him or herself what success means in terms of his/her own organization.
However, when it comes to judging media, if one accepts that each organization has a slightly different approach to success, KDPaine & Partners is proposing a non-standard standard for media measurement if you will. We call it the Optimum Content Score (OCS) . The good news is that it works for both traditional and social media and enables you to track progress over time and against the competition or peer institutions. This is how it works:
You define what the perfect article, TV spot, or Radio Mention, Blog Posting , Tweet etc. looks like. Presumably it would feature your brand prominently, it would contain a key message, it would position your brand favorably on whatever issues you care about etc. etc. Not all criteria are applicable in all situations, so you pick and chose from a list that might include the following:
- Visibility – where is the brand mentioned
- Dominance – how much is the brand mentioned, does it dominate, or is just mentioned in passing
- Messaging – does it contain one or more of your key messages? Or does it contain the opposite – a negative message or something you don't want to see in print
- Positioning – does it position your brand favorably on issues of importance to your audience?
- Who is quoted – are your thought leaders quoted or included?
- Tonality – does the article/item/posting leave the reader more or less likely to do business with you, support your cause, do whatever it is that you want them to do
- What type of conversation is taking place – there are 27 distinct types of conversation that we've identified. Understanding the nature of the conversation is critical to knowing what to do about it. Here are the 27: Presumably the most desirable would be expressing support or giving a shout-out, but again, it depends on the purpose of the program.
- Acknowledging receipt of information
- Advertising something
- Answering a question
- Asking a question
- Augmenting a previous post
- Calling for action
- Disclosing personal information
- Distributing media
- Expressing agreement
- Expressing criticism
- Expressing support
- Expressing surprise
- Giving a heads-up
- Responding to criticism
- Giving a shout-out
- Making a joke
- Making a suggestion
- Making an observation
- Offering a greeting
- Offering an opinion
- Putting out a wanted ad
- Rallying support
- Recruiting people
- Showing dismay
- Soliciting comments
- Soliciting help
- Starting a poll
Once you've determine what constitutes "Optimal content" you also need to decide what constitutes the opposite – the type of story you really wish would never appear.
You can then rate each item, posting, article or transcript according on a scale of + 1 to -1 depending on its content. You then average your score for the month/week/quarter (whatever timeframe is most appropriate). You will also need to do the same for your competitor's items. That way you can quickly see who is doing better or worse depending on your industry.