As social media has grown more and more popular in the past few years, so has the need for public relations experts to measure this powerful communication tool as a campaign tactic for clients. While I can say that practitioners have gotten a handle on this nifty tool for public engagement, we still have not mastered the correct way to evaluate it. This shortcoming will prove harmful if not resolved; causing professionals to under or overestimate its potential and miss important indicators that demonstrate success or failure.
Social Media Examiner is not letting this opportunity to unlock social media’s full potential slip through the fingers of PR practitioners. A four-step process based on brand awareness has been devised to evaluate it, which includes splitting up measurement into categories that focus on exposure, engagement, and influence. The last step is reserved to account for a combination of ROI-driven and brand awareness, called The Lead Generation Funnel. The author, Nichole Kelly, recognizes that many people wish to figure out a way to measure social media, “the bad news is there isn’t a single clear-cut answer.” I think it is great that she is at least trying to get a grasp on a method that has eluded social media and PR experts for years.
Exposure is the first category which measures the number of unique persons that you have attracted to your brand. One of the great things about Kelly’s approach is that she does not treat each social media site equally. The post gives different marching orders to track the number of visits for Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, blog, and email. For Twitter, she suggests to “look at the number of followers and the number of followers for those who retweeted your message.” For Facebook, one of her suggestions is to “track the total number of fans for your brand page.” While email and blogs are technically not considered social media, it is still helpful that she took these aspects of professional life into account.
Another helpful piece of advice that Nichole Kelly doles out in her post is the programs that she feels are the best if you don’t want to measure social media manually. While it is always good to keep an eye on your clients’ success on these sites, we are only human. Programs like SocialMention, TweetReach, Radian 6, and TweetEffect are some of the most effective at tracking exposure, engagement and influence.
I support this method of measuring social media and will actually have the opportunity to test this concept with my team in JMC 494 (PR Research). Until practitioners can determine a uniform way to measure it, social media will remain a useful tactic but with its effectiveness determined by whoever is doing the evaluating at a given time.
What are some of the benefits of a uniform method for the measurement of social media?