Social media measurement standards are now being developed. If you are currently measuring social media, then the now-in-development social media measurement standards will change how you do it. If you are not yet measuring social media, then they will change how you plan to do it.
And even if the thought of measuring social media makes you long to live on a Caribbean isle called “MeasureNotLand,” they are still going to change you.
The reality is that people have been measuring social media in various forms since 1996 when Newsgroups first caught the attention of smart forward-thinking PR people. For example, back then my company did a test project for Kathleen Buczco and Denise Offutt at Epson that showed the interaction and delay between an item appearing in traditional media and the conversation bubbling up in a newsgroup.
Fast forward to today and now there are 450 different tools and monitoring systems and everyone is doing something a little differently to create a competitive advantage. The problem is that all those efforts have led to a proliferation of “black boxes” unique to each vendor and thus incompatible between programs. And, when some corporations have as many as 20 different vendors providing measurement, this leads to a tremendous amount of data and very little insight.
Here is what the new standards will do for you:
1. The new standards will make you smarter about your data.
The first initiative of the Conclave is the publication of an "ingredients label" for social media content (read more about it here) that will enable customers to make much better decisions on how they are gathering data and what is, and is not, a valid component in their results.
2. The new standards will improve the integrity of your data.
When clients have visibility into the integrity of their data, they will no doubt put pressure on suppliers to produce more consistent content. This can only improve the integrity of the data.
3. The new standards will provide a common language.
One of the biggest problems in social media is the utter confusion about what “measurement” means. To some, who crave a “single number” as a replacement for GRPs and AVEs, the new standatds will help. But don’t hold your breath for another single number, it's way more complicated than that. Additionally, companies are increasingly focusing on “engagement” as a metric. New standards will provide, if not a single engagement metric, then at least a standard language to use when discussing engagement.
4. The new standards will sort out the silly from the valid.
Again, one of the problems that has arisen in the absence of standards for social media measurement is the emergence of very silly, easily gamed, and potentially misleading self-proclaimed standards such as “Klout” scores. If nothing else, the standards efforts will raise the visibility of the inherent problem with such definitions of influence.
5. The new standards will provide real numbers and get rid of the fake ones.
Another problem that is attacking all of our credibility these days is the proliferation of “value” calculations based on mythical relationships between social media activity and goals. The new standards will provide guidelines on how to show the true value of what you do. They won’t be a single number, but no single number has ever truly demonstrate the value you bring to your organization. That’s like deciding the value of your child based on an IQ score.
6. Everyone trusts each other, does more business, and makes more money.
Once everyone agrees on exactly what they are buying and selling and using, they will trust each other more and business will become faster and easier:
- Measurement and monitoring companies will sell more services because the clients will trust them their data.
- The clients will do better work because their data is better and they can more easily improve their programs.
- Academics will produce more, and more valuable, research, because they have standard measures to use.
7. Social media and public relations measurement will get more respect.
Once people in this business stop squabbling over the right way to measure social media, the rest of the world will start to think we actually know what we are doing. They will respect our jobs, products, and industry more.
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. Katie and Beth Kanter are authors of the book “Measuring the Networked Nonprofit,” to be published this year by Wiley.
The Measurement Standard is a publication of KDPaine & Partners, a company that delivers custom research to measure brand image, public relationships, and engagement. Katie Paine, CEO of KDPaine & Partners, will be glad to talk with you about measurement for your organization.