Today, we bring you Measurement Monday and the second installment of a three-part series from guest blogger Angela Jeffrey.

I hope you caught Part One of this series regarding the latest developments in the standardization of PR and social media measurement! After decades of chasing around for how to measure their campaigns efficaciously, PR professionals will finally have definitive instructions that are recognized cross-industry and cross-service provider. Imagine what it would be like to have your client hand you a report from their last agency, and you being able to actually know what ingredients made up those results? No more room for results-inflation and misrepresentation.

As laid out in the Part One, a cross-industry collaboration has come together to create these new standards, comprised of PR trade bodies; social media analytics experts; advertising and word-of-mouth associations; and blue-chip client companies. Two organizations in this collaboration have now launched microsites for public comment on standards-in-progress:

Both sites are now “open for comment,” after which time, the suggested standards will become official. So, if you have any strong opinions, you’d best go to these sites and weigh in quickly!

Part One focused on the work done by the #SMMStandards Conclave in more detail, with a close-up on Standard #1 of the six categories below. It has now been ratified, but Standards #2 and #3 are up for public comment. The rest are still in development. For today’s post, I will discuss #2 and #3.

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#2 Reach & Impressions
(To be published imminently)

Accurate impressions data is hard to get, and source transparency is needed with clear labeling and clarification across media types. Here are a few definitions that are in the process of being ratified:

  • Item – An item is an item of content. It could be a post, a tweet, a blog or any item posted in social or traditional media.
  • Mention – A mention refers to a brand, organization, campaign or entity that is being measured. A single item can have multiple mentions. 
  • OTS – Opportunity-to-See is the most accurate description of “gross impressions” because any item posted is only potentially seen by all the fans, followers, subscribers, etc. In fact, it is highly likely, that only about 10% of what is posted is actually seen. OTS must be specific to a particular channel: for Twitter, it is the number of first-line followers; for Facebook, it is the number of fans to a page.
  • Reach – Reach is the disaggregated percentage of your targeted audience that is actually reached by a specific item. 
  • No Multipliers – Because such a small percentage of your audience will actually see a given item, it is never okay to use multipliers. If anything, the industry may determine common “dividers” to bring down audience data inflation.


#3 Engagement
(To be published January 2012)

Engagement is an action that occurs after reach, and implies an interaction with the author. Engagement manifests differently by channel, but is typically measurable based on effort required, inclusion of opinion and how it is shared with others. Most important, any measure of engagement must be tied to the goals and objectives of your program.

  • Engagement can, but isn’t necessarily, a business outcome; it can be desirable or undesirable.
  • Engagement occurs both off and online, and both must be considered if you intend to integrate your metrics with other marketing or communications efforts. 
  • Engagement includes such actions as: likes, +1, shares, votes, comments, links, retweets, etc. 
  • Engagement actions should be counted by the number of interactions, the percentage of people engaged (by day, week or month) and the % of engagement-per-post. 
  • Engagement should be measured both for an individual – how often someone engages in your site, as well as the outcome of an action or post – or for content.
  • Examples of engaged individuals: 
    • High: posts, comments, likes or shares more than once a week 
    • Medium: posts, comments, likes or shares at least once a month 
    • Low: posts, comments, likes or shares less than once a month 
  • Examples of engaging content: 
    • Low examples = Facebook likes and Twitter followers
    • Medium examples = blog/video views, Facebook shares, and Twitter retweets
    • High examples = Facebook comments, Retweets with comments, blog comments, creating original content/video posts

We’ll pick-up with the last three categories in the next installment. Meanwhile, if you’d like to see something changed or added, go to http://www.smmstandards.org/. Speak now…or forever hold your peace!

Angela Jeffrey is founder of MeasurementMatch.com, a high-level consultancy that helps clients create PR and social media measurement strategies and identify suitable service providers. She is also a member of the Institute for Public Relations Measurement Commission, and is senior counsel to CARMA International.

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