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.

Social media and the uprising

There’s been some backlash over the last couple of months against the idea that the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt were brought on by Twitter or a “Facebook Revolution.” And certainly, it takes a lot more than the 21st century version of a communication system to persuade people to take to the streets and risk harm, imprisonment, or death. But that doesn’t mean social media didn’t play a role. It did. Given the magnitude of grievances in each country, revolt would almost certainly have come eventually. But social media simply made it come faster.

Before Egypt shut off the Internet and mobile phones, before it even started blocking Twitter and Facebook, those tools were used to coordinate and spread the word about the demonstrations that were scheduled for January 25. Without these mass organizing tools, it’s likely that fewer people would have known about the protests, or summoned the kind of courage that’s made possible by knowing you’re not the only one sticking your neck out. Without them, fewer people might have shown up, and the Egyptian authorities might have more easily dispatched them. Chances are, we’d be waking up to today with the skirmishes being nothing more than a fading headline from a time long gone.

Did social media make all this happen? No, of course not. Did it bring everything to a head much sooner than it would have, had Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube not existed? Absolutely. This is only the beginning of this type of uprising, and we can expect to see more like it in the not too distant future

kid’s too young using social media

What were you doing when you were 10,11,12, and 13 years old? I know what I was doing, playing with pokemon cards, and being excited to play dodgeball in gym class. Well, fast forward a decade or so, and the average 13 year old is now equipped with a smart phone, tablet, and laptop computer. It is because of the ease of accessibility, kids are using the social media sites like never before.

Facebook restricts minors below the age of 13 from using their site. To get around this, kids from all around the globe are creating e-mail addresses with or without the help or consent of parents and creating Facebook profiles. Keep in mind, Facebook now allows anyone with an e-mail address to register on their site, not like the good ol’ days when you needed a college e-mail. A site I stumbled across called Minor Monitor, claims that 38% of kids on Facebook are under the age of 13! Which is pretty crazy, but then they went on to say that 40 out of every 1,000 children on Facebook are six years old or younger, which completely blew my mind.

According to a CNN article, Facebook has already started to take charge of the issue of underage user-ship. They’re apparently throwing out 20,000 underage users per day. Facebook is also testing out several features and functionalities that would allow parents control over child accounts. Features include: linking a child’s account to the parent so it can be monitored and controlled, allowing parents to decide who connects with their child, and access to any applications or games.

I still believe young children should not be allowed to use social media sites, but if a parent is allowing them, I feel these features would make it much safer for the children, and maybe eliminate some of them from using it all together, because if those kids are anything like my 13 year old brother he wouldn’t want my mom anywhere near his Facebook.