“Sometimes just putting out basic metrics can actually hurt your measurement program and not help management see the true ROI and efforts you are putting in.” That was how Nicole Moreo began this AMEC measurement week webinar. Well, that certainly got my attention! I thought how can reporting on basic metrics hurt my credibility? Nicole explains.
Vanity metrics are metrics that feel important but are ultimately superficial, or worse, deceptive. What we usually think of are things like impressions, likes, re-tweets, AVEs (ad value equivalency), share of voice, mentions, page views, etc. They are not performance indicators. While some of these are important for benchmarking purposes, they should not be relied upon for actual intelligence. In the big picture, vanity metrics actually hold you back.
So, how do we figure out what to measure? First, Nicole cautioned, resist the urge to run out and subscribe to the latest tool or aggregator service that claims to programmatically measure for you. She went on to outline the steps PR pros must take—before embarking on a measurement program.
Listen and Ask
Listen to senior management, your team, your clients (internal or external). Ask questions, such as
- What is the strategic goal of the PR / marketing program, specifically the business goal? You may hear, for example, “increase share of voice” (SOV)—why? Or, “we want to put this message out on social media so people can see it”—why? What is the goal? Are you trying to increase sales? Are you trying to get people to download a whitepaper? How does that tie back to the business goal?
- Who are the key audiences? Your program is obviously not to every single person in the universe, so precisely who do you want to reach?
- Which platforms will be effective—based on the answers to the first two questions?
- What are the internal KPIs (key performance indicators) that are being used? What business point does that tie back to?
- What is the internal reporting structure?
- What insights are you hoping for?
Once you have the answers to those questions, you want to use your metrics as a tool to tell a story (after all, that’s what public relations practitioners are good at—storytelling)!
Start with the basic metrics, like share of voice—but who are you comparing to? Competitors? Other divisions within the company? Ensure what you are comparing is apples to apples. Engagement is also a basic metric that allows you to know how many people are actually interacting with your content and potentially have the influence to share it. Tonality (sentiment) is another that you may opt to use and there are others but start with these basics. Then, ask again, so what? That may lead you to another point, where you once again ask, so what? Nicole recommends asking this three times will help you find the answers that offer a mix of qualitative explanations and quantitative variables.
She went on to offer specific examples, showing charts and graphs sharing how each of them created a story of insights and intelligence that were meaningful and actionable. This was all possible by asking the right questions before embarking on the program.
*This post by Tressa Robbins originally appeared on September 23, 2016, on the BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas blog at http://www.burrellesluce.com/freshideas/2016/09/pr-measurement-beyond-vanity-metrics/ and is cross-posted here with permission.