Measuring Social Media

Everyone knows by now that social media is important to the work that they’re doing, whether that’s creating a great product or saving the world.

In public relations especially, knowing what one is getting out of a tool, tactic or strategy can be especially complex. Most of the time, we’re faced with multiple, overwhelming needs to prove ourselves: to show that massive culture change is happening around an issue, to demonstrate to our Powers That Be that we’re successful, to engage supporters in a way that avoids confrontation, the list goes on and on. Adding in social media efforts can feel like “just another task,” and without understanding how to measure those efforts, they– and we– can get lost in the shuffle.

Chapter 19 in the book covers some possible ways for public relations practitioners to measure the effectiveness of social media. In 2009 AMEC (the International Association for the Measurement and Evaluation of Communication) partnered with some global public relations bodies, declared the Barcelona Principles. The principles where seven statements detailing how public relations measurement could and should be done as best practices.

Those seven principles are:

  1. Goal setting and measurement are fundamental aspects of any PR programmers.
  2. Measuring the effect on outcomes is preferred to measuring outputs.
  3. The effect on business results can and should be measured where possible.
  4. Media measurement requires quantity and quality.
  5. AVEs are not the value of public relations.
  6. Social media can and should be measured.
  7. Transparency and replicability are paramount to sound measurement.

The AMEC published its Valid Metrics Framework, which provided a template for communications to be measured.

These are very effective ways to measure the impact of your social media effectiveness, but with technology constantly changing there are many companies emerging with sites and programs that will do it for you, that is if you have the money of course, and for the looks of it there are not cheap. Regardless of the way you choose to measure social media, the fact now is it is a must do for companies and organizations in order to keep up in the fast pace, ever-changing world of social media.

Real-Time Public Relations

Real-time means news breaks over minutes, not days. It means ideas percolate, then suddenly and unpredictably go viral to a global audience. It’s when companies develop (or refine) products  or services instantly, based on feedback from customers or events in the marketplace. And it’s when businesses see an opportunity and are the first to act on it.

Caught up in old, time-consuming processes, too many companies leave themselves fatally exposed by flying blind through this new media environment.

Chapter 17 in the book Share This starts the chapter off with a solid point. It says real-time communication impacts public relations in ways that cannot be described simply as it is the same as before but faster. It is both a central cause and effect of what it means to practice PR in the digital age. This pretty much sums it up; it is completely different than it has ever been. I don’t think you can even compare how public relations was to how it is in this day and age, and one of the main reasons which the book covers is Twitter.

Since rolling out in 2006, the micro-blogging service has become the online equivalent of a massive global square. Twitter now has more than 200 million active users creating more than 400 million tweets each day, according to Twitter’s blog. For PR pros Twitter is like oxygen. It’s a way to breathe life into new PR campaigns, cultivate relationships with media reps, stakeholders and consumers and handle crises with more alacrity.

Indeed, for communicators and, in particular, younger PR pros it may be hard to imagine executing a PR campaign without Twitter playing a central role. It’s also affected how PR folks craft their messages. As George Stenitzer, VP of marketing and corporate communications at B2B company Tellabs, put it:  “Twitter is the world’s ultimate headline writing contest. It teaches brevity. Good tweets equals seven to capture attention, 70 characters to maximize retweets.”

Twitter had enabled PR pros to take a real-time temperature of their audiences, enabling on-point messaging, and it also lets your workforce become your biggest brand champions, giving your employees a chance to evangelize about our brand’s attributes.

The book also talks about what success looks like, that in a real-time public relations demands answers to the following questions: The what, who, how, and when which can be summed up as make sure you pay attention, respond fast and effetely.

The final thing in this chapter that is really helpful is that it gives some essentials for real-time public relations success, these include:

  • (re)connecting public relations to the business
  • Investments in knowledge, skills and policies
  • Defined analytics and workflow
  • An approiate culture
  • Rigorous measurement and evaluation

This outline is essential for PR practitioners in this ever changing, fast paced social media world we live in.

Media Relations Modernized

With the way social media has been changing faster than it ever has it has forced public relations to adapt to these changes like never before. Chapter 15 in the book Share this talks about media relations being modernized for this day and age. The chapter opens up with a quote, “ In a social media driven world, the fundamentals of good media relations practice – relevance, authority, engagement and relationship – are more important than ever.” I think this sums up the way we have to treat social media as PR practitioners. Most companies are putting the responsibility of social media on the PR, when it should be spread across the company.

The book goes on to talk about what should a PR practitioner role be? It says that we should be looked at as advisors, guiding and training the different parts of the organization in effective and coherent social media engagement. I believe this is a key concept that every company should have in place. Public relations should not be the only people responsible for social media; I believe it should be a melting pot with every part of the organization having a hand in it.

A good example would be if someone tweets a question; lets use dell for the example. If the question tweeted is something along the lines of “will the new NIVIDA g force card be compatible with amount of ram I have, if not what would you suggest.” Now personally I would not want a PR responding with the same response I just found on Google. Instead you have an R&D guy, or someone in manufacturing gives the response.

The book also goes on to identify relevant media influences on Twitter, the four things you should do are: Get involved- by being on Twitter and becoming part of the community, by sharing information and engaging in discussions you will come across as a relevant individual. This is an easy step that I think many PR practitioners do not do, it just is one sided with no participation. The second is looking up current contacts, because chances are you will already have existing lists of media contacts who you already know, which could save you a lot of time. The third is the use of searching tools such as Twitter search, and social mention to look for individuals on Twitter who are potentially relevant to you.

The last one the book mentions is using curated lists, and using sites like Listotious and PeerIndex that save you time with their lists of Twitter accounts that have already been curated into groups by other individuals. This is really good for PR because everyone knows, time is money and these will save you quite a bit.

The last things the book goes over for making media relations modernized, I believe are some of the most important to any company or organization, and that is listen and engage.  Many PR practitioners just jump head first into every social media site they can get their hands on, when in fact they should take the time to sit back to listen and observe. This seems to get over-looked way too much, and needs to really be looked at first when a company is diving into social media.

Social Media and Face to Face Communication

In an age where your Facebook page is where to find “you” and your Twitter feed represents your thoughts, feelings, interests, and even your best news source, how can millennials even rationalize sending a letter or having a private face-to-face conversation?

Even when people are physically in the same room as one another, they are updating their status, following someone on twitter, texting, checking their email, googling something someone just said, looking up a video on YouTube, posting a picture they just took – all in between sentences. I have seen this first hand on multiple occasions. I was once eating at a fast food restaurant, when I noticed a group of teenagers sitting across from me, and every single one of them were sitting there texting each other. It blew my mind!

There is never a moment we are not entertained. We are texting when we should be having one-on-one conversations. Relationships are formed in the social media world without ever physically meeting. Can these distractions ever be effectively muted so as to allow for reflection, reading, or even learning? This multimedia overload is completely redefining human interaction. Replacing in-person conversations with text, email, and social media may completely change the way we interact and understand one another. This constant multitasking and informational overload may also have serious implications on education, including verbal and writing skills in the coming generations.

Over 250 million Americans are currently on Facebook. A study in the journal New Media & Society looks at how young people use social networking to define themselves and their interactions. The “older” millennials tend to have social networking pages that are somewhat mild and centered on their connections with other people, authentic relationships they have made in the “real” world. In contrast, young teenagers seem to be using these sites to create dramatic, creative, and sometimes fantastical identities; and both groups, seem to have no sense of privacy or shame when it comes to their internet identities, almost relishing in whatever activity contains “shock value.”

The cyber bullying phenomenon as well as YouTube videos made famous by millions of “dislikes” gives rise to some serious questions. Questions such as the negative impact of relationships and communications, as well as identities, created through these mediums. The social media user feels somewhat “removed,” and thus freer to engage in risky and negative behavior. The increasing communication through technology mediums rather than face-to-face conversations is also reflected in the young adults “texting” obsession.