Durham, NH – October 17, 2012 – A cross-disciplinary coalition of marketing and communications associations today announced several initial standards for social media measurement, based on progress made earlier this month at the second annual #SMMStandards Conclave. The Conclave has brought together leaders representing 11 industry associations and eight major corporations over the past year to help define social media measurement standards that will work across companies, brands, agencies and disciplines.
The initial standards address three specific challenges: 1) Content Sourcing, a foundational requirement for research and software providers to provide transparency behind the data, content and metrics so clients know “what’s inside” the metrics they deliver; 2) Engagement measurement, so clients have a standard definition and methods for evaluating how audiences are “engaging with” them; and 3) Conversation measurement, so clients have a standard definition and methods for evaluating how audiences are “talking about” them.
All of these initial standards will be published this month for public comment via www.smmstandards.org and be submitted to a customer panel assembled by the Coalition for Public Relations Research Standards. Katie Delahaye Paine, Chief Marketing Officer for News Group and founder of KDPaine & Partners, who hosted the meeting at her home here in Durham said: “Major customers requiring the use of standards is an essential step toward ensuring their impact. Meanwhile, research providers who wish to stay ahead of the marketplace on social media measurement are encouraged to start adopting the standards now.”
The detailed initial standards for Engagement and Conversation measurement will be published this month vis www.smmstandards.org and be available for comment until December 1. Based on public feedback and review by the Coalition’s customer panel, the standards will be modified and finalized by the end of 2012.
The Conclave published its first proposed interim standard in June at the European Measurement Summit hosted by AMEC in Dublin. The “Sources & Methods Transparency Table” is designed specifically to address the challenges clients face in knowing “what’s inside” social media measurement reports from various agencies, research providers and software vendors. The standardized table mirrors the “nutrition tables” used by many countries for easy comparison of calories, nutrition and ingredients in food products.
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?
The Transparency Table has received mostly positive feedback since June and is being used by early adopter clients, agencies and research providers in their reports. The Conclave is now asking for final comments via www.smmstandards.org by October 31, after which the Conclave will make final modifications to publish a formal “approved industry standard” November 15.
ENGAGEMENT & CONVERSATION
The key concepts of “Engagement” and “Conversation” are frequently discussed by social media advocates but rarely defined with enough precision to guide sound measurement. Conclave participants debated many of the different issues involved across channels and disciplines, ultimately arriving at a core definition for both terms and key metrics for evaluating social media in both areas. The standard definitions, metrics and methods include:
- “Engagement” is defined as some action beyond exposure and implies an interaction between two or more parties. Social media engagement is an action that typically occurs in response to content on an owned channel – i.e. when someone engages with you.
- “Conversation” is defined as some form of online or offline discussion by customers, citizens, stakeholders, influencers or other third parties. Social media conversation includes online discussion about your organization, brand or relevant issues, whether via your channel or third party channels – i.e. when someone talks about you.
- Any measure of Engagement and Conversation must be tied to the goals and objectives for your organization, brand or program.
- Engagement and Conversation both occur offline and online, and both must be considered if you intend to integrate your metrics with other marketing or communications efforts.
- Engagement counts such actions as: likes, comments, shares, votes, +1s, links, retweets, video views, content embeds, etc. Engagement types and levels are unique to specific channels but can be aggregated for cross-channel comparison.
- Engagement should be measured by the total number of interactions within and/or across channels; the percentage of your audience engaged by day/week/month; and the percentage of engagement for each item of content your organization publishes.
- Conversation counts such items as blog posts, comments, tweets, Facebook posts/comments, video posts, replies, etc. Conversation types and levels are unique to specific channels but can be aggregated for cross-channel comparison.
- Conversation should be measured by the total number of “items” that mention the brand, organization or issue (within and/or across channels); the number of “mentions” within each item; and the “opportunities to see” for each item, calculated by the readership at the time of posting (unique daily/monthly visitors, first-order fans/followers, view counts, etc.).
- Engagement manifests differently by channel but is typically measurable at various based on effort required, inclusion of opinion and how shared with others.
- Engagement and Conversation could be but are not necessarily outcomes. Organizations may weight Engagement and Conversation types differently based on their goals, but Engagement and Conversation metrics should be consistent across an organization.
The detailed initial standards for Engagement and Conversation measurement will be published this month vis www.smmstandards.org and be available for comment until December 1. Based on public feedback and review by the Coalition’s customer panel, the standards will be modified and finalized by end of 2012.
ABOUT THE CONCLAVE
The #SMMStandards Conclave was formed in 2011 to bring together various associations and perspectives working on social media measurement standards. The organizations include the Institute for Public Relations (IPR), International Association for Measurement and Evaluation of Communications (AMEC), Council of PR Firms (CPRF), Digital Analytics Association (DAA), Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA), International Association of Business Communicators (IABC), Chartered Institute of PR (CIPR), Federation Internationale des Bureaux d’Extraits de Presse (FIBEP), Global Alliance for Public Relations and Communications Management, and Society for New Communications Research (SNCR) Client participants include research and communication leaders from Dell, Ford Motor Company, General Motors, McDonald’s, Procter & Gamble, SAS, Southwest Airlines, Thomson Reuters, as well as many major communications agencies.