I know a lot of folks (myself included) have been slamming their heads against the wall for a while now, trying to grok an approach that really captures and measures the impact and value of social media. For many PR folks, the headache that is “social media measurement” arguably boils down to three things – influence, engagement and reach – and how you qualify each.
Fairly simple, right: who has it, who doesn’t? I’ve seen this problem reasonably solved in 60 minutes with a search engine and some Excel-fu. I’ve also seen this problem solved with proprietary indexes and ridiculous six figure contracts. You do the math, but trust me, it’s a solve-able problem that has little to do with the size of your wallet, and more to do with your ability to track outputs and analyze outcomes.
A little tricky, yes. Neuroscience? No. For communications folks, engagement is about qualifying and quantifying participation. How you calculate and weigh various participation factors (e.g., a conversation, a blog post, comment, tweet), err gestures (e.g., a link, tag, photo), is ultimately up to you to define, but assuming you can successfully identify your influencers, agreeing on the participation criteria is fairly simple and will likely be a combination of things that in aggregate (over time) indicate just how engaged – or not – folks are with what you’re doing. The scorecard model works well for this.
Reach is a lame duck carry over metric that we just can’t shake. I think influence and engagement are far better measures for social media work, but if you get stuck with factoring reach into the measurement mix (like so many of us do), concentrate on two things – links and size of networks. Both are direct measures of reach/amplification, just remember to bake in a multiplier for the net effect of the web.
Taken as parts, deconstructing these three things really isn’t that difficult, the bitch of it – historically speaking – has been tying them together into a meaningful macro measurement. Again, not to over-simply the challenge here, but assuming you can identify your influencers, assign weight to their engagement levels and calculate their reach, you’ve got yourself a fairly strong macro measurement fix. Don’t worry about the lack of a big fancy bow, you already have the package….
Social Media Measurement (Jeremiah Owyang)
Web Metrics Guru (Marshall Sponder)