FiftyOneZeroOne

Posts Tagged ‘Social media

In a cross between crowd-sourcing and Eurovision voting, the 100+ delegates at the European Summit on Measurement in Lisbon voted for five draft statements of needs that may end up in the Measurement Agenda 2020.

This will be the next stage of international policy development in PR measurement and evaluation, following on from the seven Barcelona Declaration of Measurement Principles agreed last year.

The statements are:

  • Create and adopt global standards for social media measurement;
  • Identify how to measure the Return on Investment of PR [a crowd source suggestion];
  • Measurement of PR campaigns and programs needs to become an intrinsic part of the PR toolkit;
  • Institute a client education program such as clients insist on measurement of outputs, outcomes and business results from PR programs;
  • Define approaches that show how corporate reputation builds/creates value.

The statements will go to conference delegates in mid-July for further comment. They were chosen from statements prepared from responses to an informal survey of delegates and other practitioners undertaken in recent weeks.  The wide range of academic research on PR measurement wasn’t taken into account.

This seems to be a less-than-robust method of data collection for policy-making when, for instance, a Delphi study amongst leading practitioners could have developed the propositions with greater certainty of future application.  Perhaps Barcelona Principle 7: “Transparency and replicability are paramount to sound measurement “, should have been kept in mind.

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.

 Last autumn (2010) saw the launch of Unplugged, when first year students at Bournemouth University (BU) volunteered to go without any media (other than a landline phone) for 24 hours. It was covered by a lot of media and BBC’s technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones reported it on the 10 O’clock News.

It was part of a worldwide experiment and the results have been posted at http://theworldunplugged.wordpress.com/. In them you’ll see the reactions of students, many of whom realised they were ‘addicted’ to media and had short-term withdrawal symptoms.

 There are many interesting outcomes: one was that the students perceived news as all information whether it is from Facebook, IM, Twitter, newspapers, online or broadcast. The more tersely delivered the better, hence the love of 140 character Twitter. This may have important downstream impacts on media literacy and consumption.

 The UK end of the study was run by Dr Roman Gerodimos and Shelley Thompson, a doctoral student, in BU’s Media School. They are now considering how to incorporate Unplugged in their teaching each year, as it provokes a strong reflection of “why do I engage with all these media” (often at the same time) and “is there another lived existence with less media”.

The latest, very topical Managing Outcomes newsletter from Tony Jaques in Australia has a very good article that questions the value of  Issues Advertising by large organisations. The killer data that he uses to support the case is about the low level of trust that the public has in advertising and in the statements by organisations about themselves:

“… the credibility of traditional media advertising is continuing a steady decline. In fact a study of 2,000 adults in the UK and US for the British company Alterian showed that only 5% of consumers (4% UK, 6% US) trusted advertising, and only 8% (9% UK, 6% US) believe “what the company says about itself.” If it is true that well over 90% of the public don’t believe advertising, perhaps [Australian bank] CBA should have remembered the wise old maxim on the subject – Corporate advertising is like wetting yourself in a dark suit. It very briefly gives you a nice warm feeling, but no-one notices.”

I recommend signing up for Tony’s regular newsletter on issue management. It’s always readable – and he’s got the hand-on experience and research to support the case that is being made.

Our new visiting professor at the Bournemouth University Media School, Anthony Lilley of Magic Lantern productions, gave his inaugural lecture on the future of the media last night. It’s a complex and challenging outlook in which the ability to gain and hold attention will be paramount.

Here’s the podcast of the presentation, http://www.cemp.ac.uk/activities/inaugurallecture.php

 

Thanks to my colleague John Brissenden, the History of Public Relations conference website has been set up at http://historyofpr.com.

There’s also a History of PR Twitter connection at ‘historyofpr’ and a History of Public Relations group on Linked-In. Please join us.

The website site is still in development, so bear with us.

 

I took part in the University of Georgia’s Grady College Connect conference by Skype yesterday. We were discussing the role of social media in communications by non-profit organisations. The consensus was that it plays a supportive role to main line communications by creating some forms of awareness but has little effect on generating funds or creating relationships. Indeed, some Twestival campaigns have failed badly on creating new income.

My presentation to the conference is attached. [Watson (2009) presentation to Grady College Connect Conference.] You may find other presentations and sessions on the Connect conference website.


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