Subscribe

How are you measuring your PR?

Throughout my career companies have asked for coverage. They know what they want to say, they know what they want to promote, they know the sales figures they want to meet. They know they need PR.

They just aren't sure why.

Todd likes to say that the best thing about social media and modern PR is that you can measure everything. Oh, and the worst thing about social media and PR is that you can measure everything.

His point is that you may not be measuring the right thing.

Many of our clients focus on a single but very important measurement: website traffic. That is, does a media hit (online or offline) result in website traffic? There are multiple ways to measure this, whether it's looking at referrals, measuring traffic from a geographic location, looking at traffic numbers from a day with coverage versus a similar time period, or including twitter traffic generated by a particular piece of coverage. It can all go into that measurement.

But not every piece of media will drive traffic. For example, we've put clients in the big city publications that used to make clients drool, only to see little or no discernible traffic spike. The reason is simple: some big publications just don't provide links. No links, no traffic. Asking people to take an action (searching on a company name or finding a website) is a barrier to results.

So the question becomes, if a piece of coverage doesn't drive traffic, is it effective?

The answer isn't so simple.

Let's take the work we did for TeraDiode, a laser manufacturer in Littleton, Mass. As part of our outreach Xconomy's Greg Huang wrote a great piece. Thanks to some great writing that piece got "slashdotted."

If you just look at the traffic numbers, SlashDot drove quite a bit of traffic, though it tended to be low quality. Most of the users bounced and few knew anything about the type of lasers TeraDiode is in the business of building.

But that SlashDot hit helped the story get picked up by a number of other publications, like PhysOrg and R&D Magazine. The traffic from those sites had low bounce rates, high pages per visit and resulted in whitepaper downloads. It also caught the eye of a reporter at Jane's Defence Weekly, a primary target. It should be noted that Jane's doesn't include links in its coverage.

So, was SlashDot worth it? Yes, if you measure its broad impact, not just its direct impact.

Of course, most media programs won't have that kind of turnaround. A mention in a broad publication like the Boston Globe or Newsweek may not result in immediate impact. But its ancillary benefits include third-party validation and helping build credibility so you can gain bigger or more relevant coverage.

To get there, you need to plan for the long-run.

So what are the takeaways here?

  1. Know what you're measuring -- Yes, you can easily measure site visits, but that may not be your only goals. You may also be looking for venture funding or doing some recruiting. You may simply be looking to build awareness. Different hits have different purposes and need to be measured with a different yardstick.
  2. Have realistic expectations -- A single "hit" in a widely read publication isn't going to bring you thousands of new users. You need to keep your information flowing, both through your own content and by sharing others. Your primary goal is to build an audience, not just gain a short-term bump.
  3. Know where PR Fits In -- Influencer relations is a part of the traffic-driving puzzle, but if you don't have a way to capture that traffic, then it's like going fishing with a hoop instead of a net. People should come to your site and know what to do next. Don't let them bounce, keep them warm.
  4. Plan for the long haul -- It's tempting to measure PR on a week-by-week basis, but a program takes time to develop. A hit today in a small online publication may be what you need to move up to the bigger, more impressive and more traffic-driving publications down the road.
  5. Understand where you belong -- While the Boston Globe may not yield major results for technology companies who want site traffic, I've spoken with consumer-goods companies that say a single piece their made their year. They needed awareness that later turned into sales. It's a very different measure. Another company may find that CMSWire drives the most relevant traffic. Success depends a long list of factors.
Share

Just a Number: Measuring Influence is Personal

Mention "Klout" in a social media conversation and you'll hear groans, frustrations and grumbling.

But all those folks know their Klout score.

I don't need to rehash how Klout recently changed its algorithm and sent Twitter ablaze with vitriol. You can read a great piece on the impact and find the alternatives here. But what has always been frustrating about Klout is how it tries to apply a number to something rather arbitrary. We've trod this ground before, but it came up again today during an online event called "Relevant Influence - Discovering and Engaging with Influencers for Effective Social Marketing" moderated by Chris Selland of Terametric. Mike Maney, who is an incredibly intelligent marketer, pointed out how he does most of his work by hand. He becomes an influencer, he learns the influencers he needs to know and just talks to them. Sure, there are tools out there to help him do that, but sometimes it comes down to something simple.

Like collecting the top influencers on a given topic at a Mexican restaurant at SXSW, pouring Margaritas and having a conversation.

But if you're looking at a number like a Klout score you need to ask yourself "what are you truly measuring?" Even accepted measurements have flaws. For evidence of that look no further than a great Freakonomics video on Football stats. They point out how seemingly simple metrics like a QB's passing yards never tell the whole story. The video points out that last season, quarterbacks who threw for 300 or more yards a game went 47-49. When you look at those QBs with 400+ passing games, that record drops to 3-11. (I'd like to note here that Joe Namath was the MVP of Superbowl III without throwing a single touchdown pass. He didn't throw any passes in the 4th quarter. Yet the Jets still won.)

I like what Klout is attempting to do: trying to provide everyone with a simple way to measure influence. The problem is, it means different things to different people and has a dozen different contexts.

In other words, "influence" isn't so simple to measure.

Share

Influence: The Big Picture

A client called B.S. on me today. I was asked to judge the potential influence of a blogger and twitterer who had posted a detailed response to some claims that my client had made about his company's product. I came back with an answer which was informed not by our usual in-depth analysis, but by a quick scan of Google, Klout, Twinfluence, Technorati, LinkedIn and several other social media tools and networks -- and one which completely missed the boat when it came to that person's actual influence.

Was my research wrong? No. It accurately reflected the person's reach on social networks. But it didn't capture his real reputation. Someone with little social capital online had a lot of social capital in real life, and without a comprehensive insider's perspective that comes with spending years in an industry (as opposed to a couple months), my characterization was challenged by the Big Boss at my client.

The funny thing is that Chuck and I talk about this all the time -- but I was asked to quickly come up with an assessment so I did, without the usual caveats that I usually attach. Don't fall victim to this: social media influence does not reflect real life influence.

The Four Rs of Influence
In identifying and prioritizing reporters, bloggers, editors, analysts, etc., we measure influence through a proprietary mix of four primary factors, what we call The Four Rs:

  1. Reach. How many people see this person's content, not just directly, but through other influencers and sharing?
  2. Relevance. How relevant is the person to your organization's community?
  3. Reputation. What's this person's reputation with your community?
  4. Receptivity. The counterbalance that affects how much energy we expend to influence any particular influencer: how receptive will this person be to our outreach and key messages?

In my haste, I ignored the broader aspect of reputation when I whipped together my research, probably costing me a few reputation points myself. While I stand by the internal validity of my conclusions, the external validity, taking into consideration the bigger context, brought me a little embarassment when I referred to an apparent industry bigwig as someone of relatively little influence. A lesson learned.

How are you measuring influence broadly, across both online and offline social networks? Don't forget this important lesson when you do!

Share

Updating Mad Men: The Focus Group

This week Mad Men featured a staple of the media world: the focus group. Whether it's a telephone survey, like the call I received from Nielsen this weekend, or grabbing a group of people off the street, the focus group is a key part of any media outreach campaign. Before understanding the messaging and positioning that world work for the whole, you must first undersand what will work for a small, carefully selected group.

The women of the Mad Men focus group

But today the focus group is open to everyone with a search window. You can open up Twitter and be greeted by a flood of information or check out the LinkedIn groups to find out what business folks are truly feeling. You can even enter traditional forums and hear the complaints and concerns of thousands of people. However, like the PhD who is running the Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce focus groups, people need a guide to understand what they're reading. It's very easy to get lost in the "Rats Nest" of social media.

In fact, sometimes you need to entirely dismiss what you're reading or, in other cases, provide additional emphasis. I was quoted in Mashable saying that the social media realm offers imperfect data. The point is, just a few numbers will never tell you enough of a story, you need to understand the context of the person conveying the information, online and off.

Coming back to focus groups for a moment, how they are compiled affects the information you glean from them. In Mad Men the group was made up of young, unmarried women. In fact, just before grabbing the last unmarried secretary an older secretary commented that she wasn't wanted in the room because she was, in fact, older and married.

The results of the session were that women want to be beautiful to attract a man, according to the doctor who ran it, but it could have turned out differently with the older women in the mix. Of course, this is where Pond's finds itself today, with an older, more mature demographic. The eventual conclusion that women are simply looking to be married and that's why they use beauty products was rejected by top Mad Man Don Draper, who noted that putting out a year's worth of messaging would change the conversation.

In the social media world, people put out information for a reason. When looking at social media for market intelligence you must ask yourself "why did this person say what they're saying." Otherwise you're only getting half a story. Social search tools can help you find information and many social CRM tools exist to help you get graphs, charts and numbers to show certain trends, but there is so much more available within the social stream.

Over here at Fresh Ground we have started working with customers on a social intelligence service. That is, we look at interesting pieces of information, put them in context and then distribute that information to the appropriate internal audiences. This is how we help our clients dig up everything from sales leads to competitive intelligence.

So what would Pond's do differently today? Well, first they'd have a lot more information about their target demographic. Then they would use that information to understand the individuals who visit their site. If they wanted to try out new messages they'd probably do a bit of A/B testing on their site to see what works. They may also test certain messages in certain demographic areas, either through online advertising, carefully located display ads or buying air time in specific programs. They'd also dig into the social media intelligence to find out what people in their targeted demographics are discussing, then find ways into those conversations.

And hopefully, when they're done, no one ends up crying or throwing heavy objects at Don Draper.

Share

Does Google Discourage Diversity?

During the Mass TLC Social Media Summit 2010, David Weinberger pointed out how marketers love the "echo chamber" in which they get to hear lots of positive feedback from people who already love them. The problem with this, he says, is that the echo chamber may satisfy our bosses and clients, thereby making us look good, but it does little to help advance true thinking. He believes we should be encouraging more diverse thought.

David Weinberger as seen on Wikipedia

He's right, of course. Later in the morning Mike Troiano gave a shout-out to the concept of diversity of thought in his listening talk by noting that "listening is the means by which we corrupt our vision with the external reality." That is, we (entrepreneurs) may think we know everything, but when we start listening to the people around us, we realize that we know less and need to think more.

On the surface, Weinberger is right. Diversity of thought and ideas leads often leads to stronger discussions. That is, when it doesn't end with a bunch of guys yelling "You suck!" "No, YOU suck!" Or worse, with one US Senator beating another with a cane.

Generally speaking, informed discourse is the way to go, it's why we have Freedom of the Press. If we had state-run news agencies that providing everything we needed to know, we wouldn't be able to check on our government. Worse, the government would be getting and relaying information only from those with the money to lobby, and no one would be there to shout "this isn't right!" (I'm looking at you BP who told the government experts that cutting the big oil pipe would result in a 20 percent increase in oil, something that the media parroted. Only, today NPR reported that it could, in fact, be much worse.)

In any case, when it comes to diverse thought we have a small problem. Well, a big problem, actually. It's called Google.

Marketers bow before Google as the god of online marketing. Putting out a press release? Run it through a few SEO tools to make sure your keywords line up just right. Reporter writing stories find themselves rewarded based on the number of views their stories achieve, something that plays directly into Google's hands. But rising in the Google rankings means playing to the echo chamber.

Here's how it works. Let's assume that a bunch of people linked to Dave Weinberger's site calling him the smartest guy on the Internet. Eventually you'll be able to search Google for the "smartest guy on the Internet" and find Dave. Pretty cool. But if there is diversity, some may call him the smartest guy, but others may say he's the biggest moron they know. Now Google is a bit confused. Maybe both searches get to him, but more likely another guy becomes the smartest guy on the Internet and Dave loses out.

So if marketers need to get Google to look their way they need the echo chamber. They need those links that portray their company (or their client's company) in a positive light, containing the right links, etc.

Granted, this is a bit of a simplification, but you get the point.

Which raises a pretty important question. While Google opens us up to a wealth of information that has never been available, does it also push us to be less diverse in our thought?

Share

Becoming a True Social Organization: What Phase are You?

Most companies look at Social Media only as a marketing concept. That makes sense, it touches quite a bit of the marketing function such as driving web traffic, engaging and educating prospects, building sales leads, etc.

Anyone who watches social media trends knows that it's moving deeper into the organizations, everywhere from HR to customer service to finance. Christina Warren at Mashable asks the question "Who owns social media?" (Full disclosure: I'm quoted in the piece) and it's a good question, but it's also a short-term question. She references the November 2009 study by Econsultancy that points out that the majority of social media programs today are owned by the PR and marketing team.

But it shouldn't stay that way. It can't. Because companies need to focus on becoming social organizations, not on producing "media."

At LaunchCamp David Beisel asked a panel of entrepreneurs about their marketing spend. Each said they hadn't spent a dime, but the marketers in the room bristled at the notion. "Of course they spent something," the argument went. "They spent their time and energy." But if you go a layer beyond that you realize that they are social organizations. That is, the media that they produce as part of who they are is their marketing, their marketing is in their social DNA.

This is where Todd and I are taking Fresh Ground. Yes, our background is PR and marketing, and like other social media programs we start there, but we see our role as helping companies transform into social organizations.

We see this as a process that has four distinct phases. Companies today fall at different points along this spectrum, but if you look hard you'll see your own group here.

  • Phase 1: Authoritarian -- As traditional as you get, this model is a top-down approach with a central voice that pushes out communications. Think of the traditional press-release driven PR and you get the idea. Some people put on a social-media dressing, like a Twitter account that only faces outward, or creating social media releases that still announce the same old stuff, but it's the attitude that defines the phase.
  • Phase 2: Inclusive -- This is where companies begin to truly walk down the social path. You see them start developing more journalistic-style content and interacting with the social world. In this phase you can start to hear the tone in their blogs posts. The Facebook pages start to interact and speak to the audience while the marketing department starts listening to the Twitter stream.
  • Phase 3: Collaborative -- Now things get interesting as they move out of marketing and into more customer-facing departments. No longer content to just listen, the marketing department, as well as customer service, HR, tech support, etc., begin answering queries. They are starting conversations and continuing them. Measurement gets put in place, but usually with a marketing-bent.
  • Phase 4: Social -- The company is now a hub of a community, with everyone taking part. Marketing has now turned its attention as much inward as outward, providing employees, customers, partners and investors with the tools and information they need to interact directly with the community. Companies are now able to take advantage of the army of employees at their disposal, but so are customers. Information that flows in from the community can be put to work helping create new products or offer new services.

How long does it take to move through the phases? Who initiates it? Can every company achieve it? How do you open the lines of communications internally? Those questions are left to be answered, as each organization is different.

Some of it lies in trust. I know small business owners who don't want their employees tweeting or otherwise engaging because the owners worry that they'll lose their best employees. Others feel that marketing must engage because it's "media," despite the fact that the front-line employees engage with customers every day, doesn't it make sense that they engage here? Why doesn't marketing train them and offer the tools they need?

No matter what, this isn't a fast-fix, it's a progression that takes time. Internet time may be quick, but true change happens slowly.

Share

Manish Mehta on the Nuclear Option: Fresh Ground #15

A little less that two weeks ago, I had the pleasure of moderating a panel on how big and small sized companies made the culture shift necessary to realize success in the world of the truly social company. The panelists were Andrew Sinkov of Evernote, and Manish Mehta, one of the original founders of Dell.com and VP of social media and community there.

Due to the #ashtag incident, the original keynoter, Neville Hobson, was unable to attend the event, and Manish was asked to step up and present, which he did. His story, in which he draws parallels between the rise of social media and the rise of nuclear power, was provocative and thoughtful, and we’re including an excerpt of it as this week’s Fresh Ground podcast. You can catch the full audio on the Fresh Ground blog.

The keynote will also be featured in an upcoming For Immediate Release Sessions & Speakers episode.

So here are some excerpts from the first part of Manish’s presentation on measuring social media and business value:

Listen Now:

icon for podbean  Standard Podcasts: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download | Embeddable Player | Hits (0)

Our opening music is "D.I.Y." by A Band Called Quinn from the album "Sun Moon Stars" and is available from Music Alley, the Podsafe Music Network.

Share

The Importance of Measurement

The Boston Social Media Club had a great event on Thursday on the importance of measurement for both small and large companies. I encourage you to have a look and listen.

The video from last week's great panel is up, thanks to Brilliant Video (see below)!

Christopher S. Penn's slides, and more video content, is available at the Blue Sky Factory website.

There's a great write-up of the event on Janet Gershen-Siegel's blog.

SMC Boston 4/29/2010 Measuring Social Success (Big & Small) from Brilliant Video Productions on Vimeo.

Related Posts with Thumbnails
Share