New standards for social media measurement have recently been developed by a diverse group of organizations, and largely as a result of the Barcelona Principles. Read the standards and about the process of their development at www.smmstandards.org. And please post your comments there; the official comment period is open through July.
Here are seven reasons why you should start using these new measurement standards in your work right away:
1. Standards will make you smarter.
We know of at least five companies who decided to implement Barcelona Principle-compliant measurement programs. In each case the organizations completely rethought their measurement programs and are now measuring the real value of communications to their overall goals, not just activity level. So, instead of saying, “This program did better because it generated 50,000,000,000,000 hits,” they now report monthly on the contributions the program is making to the marketing and sales effort. Wouldn’t you rather know which programs are helping and which are not?
2. Standards will save you time.
No more hours of meetings arguing about what a “hit” is or what the definition of advocacy or engagement is. It’s all there at www.smmstandards.org.
3. Standards will save you money.
Standards mean less wasted effort, fewer revisions, and happier client-agency relationships. With your team, your agencies, and everyone else in communications on the same page you will save money. And start making money, faster.
4. Standards mean everybody has the same measures of success.
With standards based on agreed-upon definitions of success, you, your boss, and all the various agencies, consultants, and agents acting on your behalf will be presenting similar metrics based on common goals, common definitions, and common messages.
The Barcelona Principles put the focus on measurement goal setting. (See Principles 1, 2, 3 and 5.) The new standards adhere to that theme and dictate that the measures you use must be driven by your overall goals.
Guess what? That means that before you start measuring, everyone has to be on the same page regarding what the measures of success are going to be. So often we get involved in a measurement program and there are three different versions of “success”: The VP wants greater awareness or purchase intent. The PR Manager is measuring impressions, and the PR agency is measuring activity. That just doesn’t fly in a post-standards world. (Here's an old-but-still-pertinent case study that illustrates the power of getting everyone working on common goals.)
5. If you change jobs or change vendors your language and metrics don’t have to change.
A big driver of the efforts towards standards is the frustration that clients feel when they change management, agencies, or vendors, and have to learn totally new measures of success and reinvent their measurement programs. With standard definitions, you can and should demand that new vendors use the same standard terms and definitions as the last team.
6. It will make vendor selection easier.
With standard definitions, vendors responding to RFPs should be able to focus on their specific strengths and the insight they offer, not on redefining the things that are now defined.
7. It takes away one more excuse about why you can’t measure your results.
For over 25 years I have been trying to persuade people that they can measure PR and social media. I’ve heard all the excuses. First it was “No money.” Then Google Analytics and Google Alerts came along and made it free. Then there was, “I don’t’ know how.” And then the number of measurement conferences proliferated. Lately it's been, “There are no standards.” And now that’s no longer true either. So get measuring.
Katie Delahaye Paine is Chairman, KDPaine & Partners, (a Salience Insight company), and Chief Marketing Officer of News Group International. KDP&P 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,” published last year by Wiley.
The Measurement Standard is a publication of News Group International.