I hope you’ve noticed that I’ve been particularly nice this year. Okay, maybe I was a bit naughty to recommend a boycott of those organizations who insist upon believing that AVE is a valid metric. And yes, I could have been nicer about all those Menaces out there (like the companies who sell the dream of cheap measurement.) But net net, I’ve been nice to lots of Measurement Mavens, and said nice things about a lot of books.
So I’m really hoping you’ll bring me just a few things I really need this year:
2010 saw a new automated sentiment analysis tool introduced every week, all of which focused on determining whether people love or loath a product. But what about all those organizations that sell products that don’t necessarily evoke a love/hate response? Does anyone really express that much passion for a back-office telecom provider or a financial service provider? Obviously not, but these companies do want to be trusted, respected, and admired. And those subtleties are lost on most sentiment analysis engines.
The dirty little secret about social media measurement is that we have way too much of the wrong data. In the olden days, if we collected 1000 clips for a client from traditional media sources, after tossing out the ones about weddings and funerals and the occasional wrong name, we’d find that around 800 of them were valid and relevant to the study. Today, that same client would receive 10,000 mentions in a month, of which around 1000 are relevant. So for example, when my company, KDPaine & Partners, set up the search string for our client, the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, we included the nickname “Cleveland Fed.” So why was there a big spike in coverage in July? Because Cleveland was “fed up” with LeBron James. (As it should have been. And I’m sure, Santa, that you are hearing from the people out in Ohio on this matter.)
Anyone in the business of monitoring and measurement will tell you that the biggest barrier to good measurement is getting quality content. We call data sources “feeds” and we need to write code that collects these feeds and inserts the resulting articles, blogs, posts, tweets, or whatever into our database. At the moment we are using at least two dozen different feeds to get our clients what we want. And, every time a new client asks us to pull data in from a new source, we have to write another one. Please, Santa, can I have a universal feed?
Another of my pet peeves are agencies and clients that insist they really want to see “everything that is said about us.” Repeat after me: NO YOU DON’T. I promise you that if I write in The Measurement Standard (that’s the publication you are reading right now) that my clients at CarMax are Measurement Mavens, it is unlikely that anyone is going to rush out and buy a car as a result. So it’s a waste of time to measure it. You really only want to measure that which impacts your business.
I’m not talking Republican and Democrat (although Santa, you could bring us a bit more of that as well). What I’m talking about here is communication between marketing teams and communications teams and other groups inside an organization. There is a treasure trove of data being collected by thousands of data geeks in almost every corporation. I met a lot of them at the SAS Global Forum last year, and I promise you, their names are unknown to the PR departments in their organizations.
Every large organization—and many smaller ones—measures a lot more than you think. They have sophisticated analytics systems that know the profit impact of a pricing change or the sales impact of hiring another sales engineer. What they don’t know is the impact of PR or social media on anything.
So please Santa, can we have a way to get all these folks and all their data together?
I now have several clients that I’ve never met face to face. A decade ago that would have been unthinkable. I’ll never forget when I closed my first deal entirely by phone plus an online demo. How great that was. No airlines, no pat downs, no desperately trying to figure out which building my future client was in while holding a map in one hand and the steering wheel in the other. Next to go was in-person reporting. Sexy dashboards made it less necessary to do presentations in person. Training on our dashboard now happens entirely on line.
And I hate all of this. I’d gladly trade a few TSA gropings for the opportunity to look my clients in the eye and get them a better outcome.
Measurement is complicated and hard to do right. It’s not just about putting some numbers together—it’s about making those numbers tell a story, and tell you what to do next. And that is nearly impossible to do in isolation. Presentation of results should be a brainstorming session with your research provider, your agency, and your entire team. You should together dig into results to discover the whys and wherefores and the what-do-we-do next. That’s the essence of two-way synchronous communications.
So please, Santa, more face time and less emails.
P.S.: Finally, thank you Santa for all you’ve brought me in the last year. I really appreciate the fact that you listened so carefully to my Xmas wishes in the past. I now have:
- A book contract,
- A better way to measure engagement,
- A tool (SAS Social Media Analytics) that provides accurate automated analysis and can integrate and correlate other data into my dashboard,
- A good and accurate ways to collect video for my clients (Critical Mention), and
- A good source to get both traditional and social media in one feed (Boardreader).
But I’m still waiting for world peace.
Katie Delahaye Paine is CEO of KDPaine & Partners, a company that delivers custom research to measure brand image, public relationships, and engagement. Katie Paine is a dynamic and experienced speaker on public relations and social media measurement. Click here for the schedule of Katie’s upcoming speaking engagements.