FiftyOneZeroOne

Social media metrics – standards or ritual measurement?

Posted on: June 8, 2011

Recently Prof Ansgar Zerfass of Leipzig University used the terms ‘rituals of measurement’ and ‘rituals of verification’ to describe the demands for numerical proof of communication effectiveness. He was making the point that what was being measured was what could be measured in a quantitative manner, not what needed to be judged such as outcome and value-links. Often process is measured in PR, not whether communication strategies have reached the objectives.

At AMEC’s 3rd European Summit on Measurement in Lisbon, a major discussion about social media measurement has started. In a wide-ranging discussion today, the 170 delegates made their first contributions on whether there was a need for standards in social media measurement.

Three factors were identified – Engagement, Influence and Sentiment. Richard Bagnall made the point that these were often judged with widely varying criteria. The discussion that followed for an hour or more revolved about defining these terms and the types of data that could be applied to them. No decisions have been made but I wonder whether the discussion “can’t see the wood for the trees.”

Surely the main judgement is whether the communication activity, which uses social media amongst its strategies, is effective in reaching its objectives. The AMEC discussion was focused on mining data on the social media-led conversation from user traffic and the level of participation. For example, is there a difference in ‘engagement’ between clicking on an online link and looking at it(read), opening the link and commenting about it (respond) and sending it on to others (share)? Is this ‘engagement’ or ‘grazing’ information? Is it an active or passive process? And can this data on ‘engagement’ indicate future action, advocacy or behavioural change?

Rather than define these terms by a discussion amongst technical users of data, it would make long-term sense to invert the process and approach it from the user point of view. The definition of engagement could then be both more valid in terms of communication psychology and indicate outcomes rather than intermediary processes. Without this perspective, the definitions could become additional ‘rituals of measurement’.

In addition to the discussion, some interesting ‘nuggets’ of social media usage came forward:

– 30-40% of social media users offer up substantial information on their demographics and geographical position which can be used for monitoring and targeted messages;

– Social media, especially Twitter, is farmed by companies for data on customer attitudes towards them and their products rather than analysed for effective communication;

– Many large corporate in the US use Twitter as a listening tool, rather than take an active part in it;

– In addition to AMEC, there are at least seven other communication organisations looking to define methods of social media analysis, with the PR sector trailing behind promotional communications.

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8 Responses to "Social media metrics – standards or ritual measurement?"

[…] on Measurement in Lisbon where a major discussion about social media measurement was held today –  the Dummy Spit blog by Tom Watson provides a good summary of the […]

[…] na własny użytek. Debata odbyła się wczoraj, pod koniec dnia warsztatowego i jeszcze wczoraj relację z niej zamieścił na swoim blogu prof. Tom Watson. Powtarzam więc za nim najważniejsze wątki […]

Tom, I’ aware of the IAB paper on this, but can you list the 7 other organisations activer in this area?
Thanks

Nigel: The organisations listed by Katie Paine in Lisbon were: Web Analytics Association, Advertising Research Foundation, Society for New Communication Research, Institute for Public Relations, AMEC, CIPR and (my notes are blurred) Interactive Association (?).

Tom, could you list the 7 other organisations who are looking at this/have published?
I’m aware of the IAB Guidelines and the CIPR document (such as it is).

Thanks

Nigel: The organisations listed by Katie Paine in Lisbon were: Web Analytics Association, Advertising Research Foundation, Society for New Communication Research, Institute for Public Relations, AMEC, CIPR and (my notes are blurred) Interactive Association (?). [Reply also sent on June 11 to Twitter message]

Thanks, for both replies! For some reason the first didn’t come through.

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