Measure, Analyze, Measure: The Takeaways from #RaganMeasure in Washington DC
On Feb. 18 and 19, Cookerly sent three of us to DC for the Ragan PR and Social Media Measurement Conference, where leaders from many types of organizations – big name brands, international agencies, television stations and nonprofits – delved into the world of measurement and reporting. With a mix of case studies, best practices, tips and recommended resources, the sessions provided a wealth of information and got us thinking about new strategies and tactics the Cookerly team could implement in daily work.
In this roundtable discussion, Sarah Jones, Evan Boyer and Sara Dever share three big takeaways from the conference.
Engagement Metrics Tell a Richer Story
Sarah: When our conference speakers extolled the value of social measurement, they made one thing clear: vanity metrics –like how many followers you have, how many likes you have – don’t tell a story. In fact, they barely register on the social continuum. Instead of focusing on the number of followers, PR practitioners should analyze how those followers engage with a brand, then use that analysis to adjust campaigns as necessary. The world of metrics is vast, so it’s important to establish the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that support overall business objectives, and set benchmarks to keep you on track. Monitoring your benchmarks can help identify trends or new audience segments that a tweaked strategy can reach further.
Evan: A great example of this is Coca-Cola Company’s website, Coca-Cola Journey™. By observing social media sharing trends in India, the site editors discovered content is most shared on Google+, and harnessed the channel to engage the country’s large population. Google’s algorithms meant shares on this channel significantly boosted SEO for Coca-Cola Journey™. While smaller companies don’t operate on an international scale the way Coca-Cola does, they can still look to reach new audiences through different channels.
Sara: Another speaker brought up a great point – want to show clients the reachability of a story they are quoted in? Pull together data on social shares of the article. If someone posts it to a social media account, he or she more than likely has read at least one or two sentences of the article, if not the entire piece, making them engaged brand advocates.
Utilize Social Measurement to Drive PR Efforts
Evan: PR efforts often begin with the end in mind – generating broad, positive coverage of a desired topic. By closely monitoring social media conversations before and during a campaign, PR practitioners can better predict opportunities for a message to receive positive response. Targeting pitches to reach an audience that is measurably more interested will generate more click-throughs back to your website, which helps drive sales.
Sara: Going back to the Coca-Cola Journey example, you’ll notice there is a section devoted to recipes that utilize Coca-Cola as an ingredient. Why? Because social media research showed that recipes with Coca-Cola were one of the most shared and searched items. Now they are creating and housing this content for brand fans, who are in turn sharing it with their followers and redirecting more traffic to the website.
Sarah: Reputation management is another key area where using social measurement can aid a media relations strategy. Many programs can track sentiment (although, they sometimes require manual help), then layer positive and negative mentions on a map. Is your client receiving negative coverage in Miami, Phoenix and Atlanta? Then you know focusing money and talent on a positive campaign targeted to those regions will have the greatest ROI.
Measurement is an Ever Changing Process
Sara: In the last few years, there has been a renewed focus on how to measure the reach of PR tactics. Efforts like the International Association for Measurement and Evaluation of Communication’s Barcelona Declaration are important attempts to standardize these processes and principles. But the fact is that measurement best practices are always changing – and they should. As one speaker suggested, “What’s the easiest way to ensure your reporting documents WON’T be read? Use the same format over and over and make the report merely a regurgitation of previously shared information.”
Social media is a great example of this. A few years ago, a successful campaign was defined by the number of “likes.” Now these vanity metrics are irrelevant if fans are not engaged. The bottom line: monitor new trends and measurement tools, but evaluate best practices based on individual client needs and preferences.
Evan: There’s an Esurance commercial floating around right now about an elderly woman posting pictures on an actual wall in her home, instead of on Facebook. Imagine how difficult it would be for Grandma to generate impressions with this approach! Don’t let your social strategy be as outdated as that grandma’s wallpaper. On social media, even a ‘like’ means the audience has read at least a sentence or gathered the theme of the post.
The Key Takeaway: PR is Not Siloed
Sarah: During the two days we spent at the Ragan conference, we learned a lot of nitty-gritty details about measurement and reporting, but the overarching theme was that PR does not exist in a vacuum. It relies on good relationships with marketing, IT, the C-suite, customer service and others. Each of these departments ultimately supports business objectives; analyzing their data and sharing your own will only lead to a stronger organization that can increase the bottom line in a more holistic, thoughtful way.