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

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, 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


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