By Bill Paarlberg, editor
If you have any responsibility for evaluating the effectiveness of social media, you should hop on over to the IPR website and pick up Angela Jeffrey's new and practical "Social Media Measurement: A Step-By-Step Approach." Better yet, just download the pdf here right now, because you'll want it have it on hand. This is a very well-researched and practical guide that is designed to, yes, take you step-by-step through measuring social media. But it's a whole lot more as well.
Under the guise of a guide to measurement, Jeffrey introduces many valuable related topics, including how to create a social graph, the AMEC Valid Metrics Framework, and what ROI is and how to (or not to) use it. This paper doesn't introduce new research or original material, what it does do very well is to organize a lot of existing material into a practial guide.
AMEC has recently published an underwhelming and self-aggrandizing online Definitive Guide to Measurement. They'd do well to look at Jeffrey's paper to see how to do it right.
Jeffery states in the comments on the IPR site that she "went to school" to put this paper together, and it shows. No doubt plenty of students will in turn be going to school with this as a reference, because it covers the subject in a way that provides plenty of background, reference material, and introductions to related subjects. Over half of the 37-page paper is devoted to appendices listing companies, services, and additional techniques. If you've never done correlations in Excel, then this paper is worth looking at just for those handy instructions alone.
Jeffery pulls in lots of advice from numerous heavy hitters in the measurement world, and acknowledges her debt to previous authors of similar guides. This includes Katie Paine, whose Seven Steps to PR Measurement have been a staple of the field for 20 years, and are a major feature of her books "Measure What Matters" and (with co-author Beth Cantor) "Measuring the Networked Nonprofit."
An innovation here is to combine a practical cookbook approach with the AMEC Valid Metrics Framework. If you're not familiar with the Framework, or, if you've felt daunted by its apparent complexity, don't worry. Jeffrey provides a straightforward introduction and explanation of how to make use of it. It's well worth getting to know. Yes, it presents the best ways to assess your progress, but it's really a condensation of the state of PR art and practice. It will help you understand what PR efforts to make, and how and why to make them.
Although she uses it here to help choose measurement tools, the Framework could probably have been the basis for more or most of her paper. Jeffery says she wants to expand her paper in the future, and she'd do well to have the Framework be a part of that.Unfortunately, Jeffrey provides no link to a general how-to introduction to the Valid Metrics Framework. This may because the only one out there is buried on the AMEC site and mostly invisible to anyone not looking very diligently. She does link to this presentation by Mike Daniels, but see also this article by Angela Jeffrey herself.
Update: In December 2013, AMEC posted How to Use the AMEC Valid Metrics.
Bill Paarlberg, Editor of The Measurement Standard, has been writing about public relations measurement for 20 years. He is editor of the award-winning "Measuring the Networked Nonprofit" by Beth Kanter and Katie Paine, and editor of two other books on measurement by Katie Paine, "Measure What Matters" and "Measuring Public Relationships." Visit Bill Paarlberg's page on LinkedIn.
The Measurement Standard is a publication of News Group International.