Hungry for Social Media Measurement Standards?

Don’t know about you, but I’ve been starved for standardization in social media measurement and analysis for ages. With hundreds of service providers offering secret sauces and black-box solutions, how can a PR pro know if his results approximate reality? Or, how does he/she compare reports from one vendor to the next?

Well, good news. Thanks to a cross-industry collaboration of PR trade bodies; social media analytics, advertising and word-of-mouth associations, and a handful of blue-chip client companies, progress is definitely being made. An update was given at the 4th Annual AMEC European Measurement Summit a few weeks ago by Tim Marklein of W2O Group and Katie Paine of KDPaine & Partners, who are leading the charge (see www.smmstandards.org).

The work follows the AMEC Barcelona Principles in 2010 and the AMEC Valid Metrics Framework in 2011, both of which established preliminary methods for measuring social media. Next steps are creating standards in six areas of priority (listed below). While the first has been completed, the subsequent five are slated for updates this fall after additional Cross-Industry Collaboration meetings.

Content Sourcing & Methods – Not all content venues, aggregators and analysts are created equal. So, all social media measurement reports should include a standard “content sourcing and methodology” table that helps clients know “what’s on the inside.” A new Sources & Methods Transparency Table is now ready for use!

Reach & Impressions – Accurate impressions data is hard to get, and source transparency is needed with clear labeling and clarification across media types. By the way, multipliers should never be used; in fact, dividers are more appropriate.

Engagement – Engagement is an action that occurs after reach, and which could even be a business outcome. It manifests differently by channel, but is typically measurable as follows based on the effort required, opinion and how it is shared.

  • Low – ‘likes’ and ‘follows’
  • Medium – blog/video comments and retweets
  • High – Facebook shares and original content/video posts

Influence & Relevance – Influence is something that takes place beyond engagement; it is multi-level and multi-dimensional, online and offline. It is not popularity, nor a singular score.  It is relevant by domain and subject level. Influence and relevance should be rated via human research; not algorithms.

Opinion & Advocacy – Sentiment is over-rated and over-used and varies by vendor and approach. Opinions, recommendations and other qualitative measures are better, but coding definitions, consistency and transparency are critical:

  • Opinions (“it’s a good product”)
  • Recommendations (“try it or avoid it”)
  • Feeling/Emotions (“that product makes me happy”)
  • Intended action (“I’m going to buy that product tomorrow”)

Impact & Value – These terms are not interchangeable and will depend on client objectives and outcomes. “ROI” should be strictly limited to measurable financial impact; but “total value” can be used for financial and non-financial impact combinations. Value can be calculated in positive results (sales, reputation, etc.) or avoided negative results (risk mitigated, costs avoided).

Would you like to be involved as standards are developed? Follow the #SMMStandards hashtag on Twitter and provide your feedback!

About the Author
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. Find her on Twitter @ajeffrey1 or at angie@measurementmatch.com

 

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How to Use Tags and Categories on your Blog

Tags and Categories: What’s the Difference?

Tags and categories are useful signposts when navigating a blog, though the two can easily be confused.

Categories as Headings

Think of categories as chapter headings. A reader coming to your blog to learn about gardening, for example, might want to look for information about propagating plants. A category called ‘Propagation’ would be useful to the reader looking for a specific piece of information.

You can add posts to one or more category so that when the reader clicks on a link, they will be taken to posts which are the most relevant to their search. It is a good idea to display categories in the sidebar of your blog so that readers can see them easily. Your categories should be general topic areas and can encompass more than one main idea. A list of 5-10 categories is sufficient for most blogs. Fewer than five and there is not much reason to use categories, more than ten and the list risks becoming repetitive.

Tags as an Index

Tags are more like the index at the back of a book, usually one word and specific. An individual post can have several tags, but for most posts 2-3 tags is sufficient.

It is important to make sure that you use the same tags and are consistent with details such as capitalization, since words like ‘cuttings’ and ‘Cuttings’ will be stored on your blog as separate tags. You may also want to consider using synonyms. Whereas categories are more useful to somebody who is already reading your blog who wants to find further information, tags are used by search engines when people type in a keyword which relates to your blog.

We recommend 2-3 tags as an appropriate amount to be used in a blog post because you don’t want to overuse tags to the point where you are keyword stuffing, especially with the Google Penguin update. People may think that it will be better to use more tags, but if you use too many tags you may get irrelevant content appearing on blog posts and when your site is being crawled you may even receive a minus credit because of overuse. If you think it is necessary, we say use 5 tags at most, this way you keep the posts which are linked together focused and relevant.

A good example of tags would be for a recipe for vegetarian moussaka. You could use the following tags: ‘recipe’, ‘vegetarian’, ‘moussaka’, all of which relate to the post subject. The post itself may be listed in the category of ‘Recipes’. You can choose not to display tags on the sidebar of your blog, or you can display them as a tag cloud. The advantage of this is that is shows readers straight away some of the most popular topics and subjects covered in the blog in a graphic way by making the most commonly used tags larger. If you choose not to display the tags, there is no real detriment to the reader as the category list should make it easier to find posts of interest. Displaying tags as a list is probably overkill and adds little value to the reader, merely filling up space in the sidebar.

A significant advantage of using tags in blogs is that it will help readers to navigate easily to other related posts which may be of interest to them. For example if they are reading a post under the category ‘Food and Drink’ and are interested in ‘Caribbean Food’, they could choose this tag to find further posts about Caribbean food. Hence it will be easier for the reader to find specific topics which are relevant to them.

From the point of view of the blog, tags encourage people to click through to other posts and ultimately stay longer on the website. Tags will also benefit your search engine optimization (SEO) if you use it correctly and consistently. Try and use tag names that people will be searching for and are not too broad. For example, you’re more likely to get traffic from the tag ‘Caribbean food’ as oppose to ‘Caribbean’ under the category ‘Food and Drink’. Furthermore, tags help to bring less clutter to your blog’s categories and help to make your blog clearer to understand.

Tags and categories can bring plenty of benefits to your blog, so bloggers should focus on using them correctly and consistently, and it is important to understand the difference between the two.

 

About the Author
Oliver Ortiz works for
Expert Market which is a division of MVF Global. Expert Market is a UK-based provider of a wide variety of business related equipment and services. Find him on Twitter@OliOrtiz7 if you would like to connect with him.

 

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Making a Good Infographic

 

You might say that we’re in the golden age of infographics. They’re everywhere, pulling the humdrum facts that make up our world and arranging them in ways that show connections in the data that we didn’t know were there. We share them like crazy, and that makes infographics a powerful online marketing tool if they’re designed properly.

And there’s the rub: so many infographics get it wrong. But if you know the underlying principles that help shape the truly good ones, you’ll have a better handle on infographics design and how to build a visual winner from the ground up.

A Unified Concept

You could have all the facts in the world about shoes. But without a unifying idea, what point are you trying to make with your infographic? Without some type of thesis to work toward, you’ll fail at the most basic point of the graphic: to show how the data is connected. Lack of a driving point also dooms your visual design from the start; I’ve seen too many infographics that are simply a collage of semi-related facts.

Where do you get that unifying idea? It’s hidden in the data. Anemic infographics are boring to read, and the readers know they’re thin on content. Fact-dense infographics intrigue people and get them to pass your infographic along. The most important thing you can do is identify the underlying questions that the facts inspire and visualize the not-so-obvious connections between disparate pieces of data.

Visual Simplicity and Readability

If you have to explain the visual elements of your graphic with a lot of text, maybe your design isn’t going to grab readers’ attention like it ought to. And the worst sin you can commit when doing online PR is to be boring. Someone should be able to capture the idea of the graphic within the first 5 seconds and still be diving into the details after 5 minutes.

It’s an infographic, not an “infotext.” I don’t care how perfect you think the font you chose is; any graphic should be primarily made up of visual elements. And a couple of pie-charts does not an infographic make. The visual design needs to create patterns that show the relationships and meaning inherent in the data you’re trying to represent. When you reveal connections between ideas that aren’t necessarily intuitive, that sparks people’s interest, and that gets your graphic shared.

Try not to make it too massive. Big isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker, but there’s definitely a point at which you’ve gone too far, especially if the reader has to scroll more than once or twice to read the whole thing.

Portability and Shareability

It’s a lot harder for your infographic to go viral if you don’t make it easy to share. Place it on your blog or website with prominently displayed embed code and share buttons for Facebook, Twitter and other social sites. When people can post a link to your graphic in just a few seconds, it can make the difference between them sharing it or reading it and moving on.

Also, any piece of content needs to exist in a relevant space on the Web. If you don’t place your infographic in a place where it will get noticed by people who care about the content, then what’s the point?

Starting with these underlying concepts, it’s a lot easier to build a compelling infographic right from the start. Otherwise, your graphic might just wind up unnoticed and unshared, like so many of the bad graphics sitting on lonely blogs and sites all over the Internet.

About the Author
Aubrey Phelps grew up in a small town and always knew she wanted to achieve…something, and she has. She packed her bags for college but instead of a degree she earned a husband. Bringing four years of SEO experience and expertise, she is an superb account executive who blends her cocktail of knowledge and unparalleled people skills to take on the world. Contact her company via @prmarketingcom.

 

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How to Build a Social Media Ambassador Program

Ambassador programs are nothing new. If you’ve ever used a punch card to keep track of purchases and eventually received something for free, you’ve been an ambassador, albeit a horribly under-used one…

At the end of the day, ambassador programs are designed with two main goals in mind: (1) to build a relationship with the customers that love you most and (2) to leverage those customers to increase customers, sales, market share, etc. As the Harvard Business Review coins it, the new “Consumer Decision Journey” requires an emphasis on the aforementioned goals of relationship building and credible network building.

But how do you find and leverage this extremely valuable group of customers? Below are some tips from our experience that will hopefully help you think through the process.

Have a goal from the beginning. 

For example, one of our clients told us that they had an ex-employee writing bad reviews after he/she had been fired. Knowing this ahead of time allowed us to construct an ambassador program that focused on generating positive recommendations, reviews, and online sentiment. Ambassador programs can be used to drive event attendance, to drive website traffic, to increase sales, and more. Knowing exactly what your pain point is and how your ambassadors will solve it will allow you to create an impactful ambassador program with a clear focus.

Have a bulletproof system for sifting out your best ambassadors.

Great ambassadors possess three key traits: they love your brand, they love to talk, and they have some sort of online presence. The last one is optional but increasingly important. The question is – how do you find a group of these people? You need a system. Here are the parts to an effective ambassador identification process:

  • Identify (super-duper) repeat customers. When we implemented an ambassador program for a tourist destination, we looked through survey data to find out who visited the most, who would represent a range of demographic profiles, and who made extremely positive comments about their experiences. This gave us a list of about 300 people. On the other hand, when implementing an ambassador program for a local salon, we empowered the hair stylists to recommend their most loyal clients. Finding your best customers will be slightly different for each company, but can usually be achieved with some mix of qualitative and quantitative analysis.
  • Invite them to apply. Notice that this isn’t inviting them to become an ambassador (yet). This step usually involves having prospects fill out a short survey to identify their “word-of-mouth potential.” Which social networks do they use? Are they familiar with basic communication media such as email? The most crucial part of this step is to convey the benefit of an ambassador program to it’s participants, and also the benefits for the brand.
  • Select your best candidates. Invite your desired participants into the program, while clearly articulating the program benefits and why they were chosen. Immediately give them a task or action they can complete – this ensures that you don’t fall off their radar immediately and also tests buy-in of your group.

Incentivize strategically.

The key here is not just to incentivize at any/all times, but rather to incentivize in strategic ways. First of all, we rarely use money, which helps to prevent people applying to the program who aren’t really in love with the brand. We want people to be applying first and foremost because they want to be closer to the brand, not because they want some extra cash in their pocket. Another tip for incentivizing is to not tie incentives to individual tasks, but rather tie them to performance/involvement on a large scale and at random times. This further prevents people just completing tasks for the incentive.

Metrics, metrics, metrics.

As with any investment, measurement is key. When measuring the effectiveness of your ambassador program, be sure to set up systems that capture the benefits your program might be creating. If your ambassadors are writing reviews, are you tracking referrals from those sites? If your ambassadors are trying out new products, are you tracking the feedback? Some other KPI’s we use are: views of ambassador comments (awareness), referrals from ambassadors (leads), and ambassador involvement (engagement).

I hope these steps shed some light on how successful ambassador programs work. However a key point is that ambassador program success is not built on the steps that you take but rather how you implement each step. It is extremely important to be communicating with these people in a way that is authentic, transparent, and communicates the value of a continued relationship.

About the Author
Andrew Krebs-Smith is the President/Founder of Social Fulcrum, a word of mouth marketing agency that leverages social media to create marketing campaigns designed around the strategy, goals, and situation of brands. He has worked on social media marketing campaigns for Fortune 50 companies including Pfizer and Microsoft. Contact andrew at andrew@socialfulcrum.com or @andrewks with any questions about social media marketing or digital strategy.

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The Art of Landing New PR Clients via Social Media

Statistically speaking, social media has proven to be a powerful tool for landing new clients and servicing existing ones. Whether it’s getting the attention of a reporter who then does a feature on a client through a facebook post, getting a friend request from a stranger claiming he wants to hire you, or just trolling through your LinkedIn page and profile views and following up with an intro email, using social media accounts to land new clients and service existing ones can be very profitable.

I’ve gotten several new clients this way, mostly through my LinkedIn. The first was a Miami company owner who sent a connect request explaining he’d like to hire me to get his name up on search engines. His email was courteous and to the point. “You don’t know me but I am interested in hiring you. I’m impressed with your accomplishments.” He gave his phone number and asked me to call him. I Googled him. The company was legit. After we exchanged a few emails discussing his pr needs, I further checked out his company and sent him my phone number. He sent a retainer that day. More requests came.

Soon after, I quickly realized I could increase my new client contacts by following a few simple social media guidelines:

  • Always present yourself professionally, even in your personal social media accounts- you NEVER know who will view your profile
  • Monitor to see who is checking your profile- check their legitimacy, then send an intro email
  • Update and maintain your accounts and sites frequently
  • Strengthen your network by asking others to refer you to their clients and contacts
  • Increase visitors and contacts by including your your social media sites in your email signature, website, advertisements, and on business cards
  • LinkedIn is proven to be a top producer of new client introductions, give those viewing your profile a clear idea of your specializations and keep it updated as your career progresses
  • Ask for recommendations from your past and current clients
  • Cross-connect your blogs, Twitter and Facebook accounts and have successes and updates and posts appear simultaneously when possible to reach maximum contacts and followers
  • Create a buzz of curiousity by viewing LinkedIn profiles of clients that you would like to work for; they will see that you have viewed their profiles and perhaps view yours, finding that you are just who they are looking for
  • Get freelance work by sending intro messages to those in similar professions and industries
  • Post on-going client successes to show you are capable of producing results
  • Follow and friend your media and pr contacts and keep them informed of client story, photo and pr opportunities
  • Offer social-media directed incentives to lure new clients
  • Offer rewards/services to existing clients and social media contacts for referrals who become new clients
However, you also need to use caution and common sense when doing this. In meeting anyone you don’t know, where there’s an opportunity to gain a new client, there is also the chance of communicating with someone you’d rather not know! It’s okay to be suspicious; it’s imperative that you protect yourself by investigating the potential client before responding.

In any profession, there’s a certain grain of trust you put out there when you post your name, picture, address, phone number and website. In PR, relating to the public is your first nature, and you want to think the best of those who contact you; you hold a certain level of confidence that you are wise enough to know a scam artist from a legitimate job offer. I follow a few simple guidelines before I reply to people who find me through my social media sites:

  • Google the potential client’s name
  • Research the company and website blogs, social media sites, customer feedback, etc.
  • If you’re still not sure, ‘secret-shop’ the company to get a sense of their professionalism, customer service and follow-up with a simple phone call
  • Check with the Better Business Bureau, public records, criminal search sites, and returns on their phone number and email addresses through search sites
  • Over a course of a few days, visit their social media sites for a feel for who they are and how they communicate with others
  • Read recommendations from other clients or customers on LinkedIn, and posts on Twitter and Facebook
  • Check their past experience, qualifications, abilities, and accomplishments
  • If you still have doubts, ask them for a few references

Are these tips helpful? Are there any others you’d like to add? Please comment on this post and share with others!

About the Author

Sherry Gavanditti has been a PR/media specialist for the past 30 years and   currently works for various clients, including Menorah Park Campus, the largest premier nursing care facility in Ohio. In addition to serving a vast array of clients’ PR and design needs, additional experience includes working with the Associated Press, Crain’s Cleveland Business, The Cleveland Plain Dealer, and various other daily, weeky and monthly magazines and newspapers. Contact her on Twitter.

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