Archive for March, 2013


Continuing this week with the social media measurement discussion…

I look at examples of FREE and PAID social media measurement tools that claim to provide value to measuring a social web program.

By now, most public relations professionals would agree with the idea that in order to be successful, p.r. practitioners need to know what and how to measure, and how to present their results.  Quoting from the PRSA website:

Measurement and evaluation are critical elements of every public relations practitioner’s professional competencies and are central to making a “case” for public relations.

In the past few years, there’s been alot written about the latest and the greatest social media measurement tools. Some offer limited tracking and reporting.  Others offer to “do it all”. Some are free. Some are VERY pricey.

Let’s look at some examples of what’s out there – and what they can offer the public relation’s practitioner.


Let’s start with three examples of FREE social media measurement tools that provide value to measuring a social web program.

(1) HootSuite

I’m starting with HootSuite, because it’s the one I’m familiar with. It’s been highly recommended by colleagues who use it successfully for their small businesses. All of them use the free service.

That’s right, free. While you need to pay for their premium products, HootSuite continues to offer a free social media dashboard.  The dashboard allows you to monitor and manage what’s happening on your various social media accounts – all in one place.  These media accounts include the most popular sites: Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter and Google+ Pages.  Additionally (and still for free), HootSuite has a function that allows you to create your own (customized) reports with advanced tools like network stats, Facebook Insights and Google Analytics.

In terms of the triple A’s (last week’s post), from what I know so far, it allows you to track alot of the web activities under all three.  Could be more than this, but here’s an idea:

Action includes: clicks, retweets, shares, wallposts, comments, @replies, and RSS feed activity (and likely what replaces it).

Attitude (or influence) includes:  sentiment, share of voice, volume of interest and influencer mentions/reports.

Attention (or exposure) includes: visits, views, followers, fans, subscribers and brand mentions.

It seems to me that HootSuite is a great option for public relations practitioners who represent clients with established (or they will establish for their late adopter clients) identities on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

(2) MyTopTweet

Another tool that has great potential for providing value to measuring a social web program is “My Top Tweet” by TwitSprout.  This one is interesting since what it  monitors is limited to Twitter and Facebook. Using Twitter as an example, the tool will allow you to:

  • track which tweets got the most retweets,
  • the number of times they were retweeted,
  • compare your activity with competitors,
  • you can track particular trends, businesses and influencers,
  • determine the time of day that your followers or fans are active, so that you can determine the best times to tweet or post, and
  • there’s something called a “help layer” which layers tips over your dashboard metrics, and gives you possible insights and tips into on audience engagement and growth

Again, you can see how this falls under the “Triple A’s”.

This tool would be potentially attractive to organizations like mine (government agency) that have limited their social media activity to Twitter and Facebook or one or the other.


If you’re on LinkedIn like I am, you may have received notice of your KLOUT score. KLOUT identifies and tracks influence and influencers.

How? It measures influence based on a person’s or organization’s ability to drive action on social networks.  Using Twitter activity as an example, they explain their tool this way:

The majority of the signals used to calculate the Klout Score are derived from combinations of attributes, such as the ratio of reactions you generate compared to the amount of content you share. For example, generating 100 retweets from 10 tweets will contribute more to your Score than generating 100 retweets from 1,000 tweets. We also consider factors such as how selective the people who interact with your content are. The more a person likes and retweets in a given day, the less each of those individual interactions contributes to another person’s score. Additionally, we value the engagement you drive from unique individuals. One-hundred retweets from 100 different people contribute more to your Score than do 100 retweets from a single person.

The Klout Score currently is connected to networks that include LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Foursquare and interestingly, Wikipedia. As for the Triple A’s, this is about tracking “Attitude” – influencers who can drive “Action” and “Attention”.


And, finally – an example of what you get if you can pay for a social media measurement tool. 

The example: ViralHeat

I chose it not because the name is cool (although I think it is), but because of it’s promise: “social media simplified: a unified suite”. When you think about it, that’s really the promise of all of these tools.  So what additional value is there when you pay for a tool?

In the case of ViralHeat the additional value is that it’s a comprehensive tool that allows you to several options to monitor, measure, report AND engage at the same time:

  • Monitor conversations across the social web,
  • Manage multiple accounts (for Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+),
  • Publish media content to multiple sites, and
  • Analytics that are tailored to social media (example identifying and tracking influencers and sentiment)

In addition to monitoring and managing the Triple A’s, you have publishing and analytics all in one place. The the difference between what is free and what you pay for  is these additional options along with the level of sophistication of the monitoring, analysis and reporting.

The price? $99.99/mo. $1200/year. Worth it? Maybe. Could you make a business case for it? Maybe.

So, FREE or PAID – what tool is the best option for measuring your social media program?

Even if budget is no option – whether you or your boss should pay for a service depends on what additional value that tool can offer you above and beyond what the free options offer. In light of your goals and objectives, what social media avenues will give you the information you need?  How far will you need to drill down to “make the p.r. business case”?  And, will the tool let you drill down?

Even considering this small sample, it’s clear that there’s isn’t one BEST tool. The answer to what tool to use – what measurement tool provides the best value to you when measuring your social web programs – is unique to the social web program you’ve developed for your client.  And of course, even once you’ve identified what seems like the best for a program type will continue to evolve as the tools continue to evolve.


PostScript – One more FREE oneWordPress

At the top of this wordpress blog (when I’m signed in) I can see a graph.  When I click on this graph, what pops up are measurements called “traffic stats” that include for example views and visitors, how many, when, what countries they are from, along with what topics are the most popular and who are the most active among my commentators.  While this blog hasn’t been active long enough to give me alot of feedback that allows for insights. On the other hand, I have other wordpress blogs where I post stories that I write.  I’ve been tracking the activity for different types of stories to help me to understand what “my public” enjoys most with the intention that one day soon I’ll approach a publisher, and say – look at these analytics.  This is how many people liked what I wrote, and who they are.


a p

Author, Olivier Blanchard, in his book “Social Media ROI” writes:

“It is easy to get sidetracked by typical social media metrics that don’t have much of a bearing on business objectives. Focus on establishing a social media program measurement practice that caters to an organization, not a celebrity. Popularity and popularity metrics are not necessarily what you want to spend alot of time and energy on.” (at p. 195 )

As Blanchard points out, in all areas of  business, including public relations, it’s not about about the level of celebrity (fans and likes or the amount of retweets) unless that celebrity can be converted into a measurable outcome that furthers an organization’s goals.

So, how do we measure the ROI of social media?

The first response to that is that we’re still learning.  The area of social media metrics continues to evolve.  Thanks to sites like “Social Media Monitoring Wiki” or “Social Media Monitoring Review” the latest tools are continually laid at the pr professionals doorstep.  But how do you choose?  Even if money is no object (lucky you) – you still need a way to determine what’s best for your organization.

How do we stay focused?

Again, referring back to Blanchard’s quote above – social media measurement needs to have a bearing on business goals and objectives.  A useful way to keep the pr practitioner “[focused] on establishing a social media program measurement practice that caters to an organization” is to apply the triple A’s: Action, Attitude and Attention.

Action includes: clicks, retweets, shares, wallposts, comments, @replies, webcast attendees, downloads, and RSS feed subscriptions (or whatever replaces it).

Attitude (or influence) includes:  sentiment, share of voice, volume of interest and influencer mentions/reports.

Attention (or exposure) includes: visits, views, followers, fans, subscribers and brand mentions.

(for a slightly different take see: “The Evolution of Social Media MeasurementMarch 21, 2012)

The Triple A’s and conversion

All or some of the metrics listed under the triple A’s may be valuable and should be considered as potentially part of your p.r. social media measurement strategy. But for most organizations they are the means and not the end.  The intangibles that make up actions, attitudes and attentions need to be converted into tangible objectives (such as sales) that in turn allow an organization to achieve their goals –  whether those goals are financial or say, getting re-elected.

By monitoring and tracking actions, attitudes and attentions correlations can be drawn between them and tangible objectives such as frequency (buy rate), reach (number of new customers) and yield (average dollar value of a transaction) (Blanchard at Chapter 16). Decisions can then be made based on patterns that emerge.

Oreo as an example

However, we need to be cautious around the conclusions we draw. Correlations there may be.  Cause and effect – not so clear. Say for example, after Oreo’s brilliant Superbowl tweet that Oreo sales went up.  Based on this, it would be tempting to conclude that your ROI can be directly equated with the number of Twitter followers you have.  But what if it wasn’t the number of followers, but the number of retweets, or what if it was because of the influencers who mentioned the ad.  Or was it a combination? And, were the sales the result of new Oreo cookie buyers or were they loyal buyers who bought more?  We need to drill down like all good researchers do, asking questions, testing hypotheses and measuring over time to truly understand what is having an impact and why, so that we know what’s been successful – and what’s worth further investing in.

It all fits together like a jig-saw puzzle – necessary to expand and grow

As Maggie Fox (Social Media Today) penned, “Every part of the social media measurement evolution journey has brought value to evaluating the impact of Social on Leads and Sales.  Moreover, every measurement remains important but should not be represented on its own; they all fit together like a jig-saw puzzle and provide input necessary to expand and grow engagement and lead generation opportunities.”

How best can a PR practitioner charged with the community manager role serve both the needs of the online community and the requirements of his or her organization to meet business objectives?


In order to ensure success, the story goes that the greek goddess Ceres employed lesser gods to assist her. Among them was Conditor whose job it was to be maker, builder, framer, establisher, founder, author and compiler (1). Add to this list energetic – and energizer, patient dialoguer, and strategist and what you have is a PR practitioner charged with the social media community manager role.  In some ways, this conditor has a long history, in other ways we’re breaking new ground, and in all ways the job requires an investment in time and resources in order to ensure that an organization meets their business objectives.

a long history…

Public relations has always been about communication for the purpose of achieving organizational objectives. The public relations practitioner must understand the organization’s business goals, develop strategies, create relevant content, engage with stakeholder publics, analyze data and stay up to date on topics, trends and tools.  This list could have been developed for any number of public relations practitioners for the past hundred years  – but it wasn’t. The list appeared on February 20, 2013 in a post titled, “The 6 Things Your Social Media Manager Must Do To Expand Your Online Presence.” (2)  What we recognize from this list is that the core responsibilities of public relations practitioners has remained the same.  In carrying out these activities, it’s often been referred to as managing, because it’s been very much about controlling.  The public relations manager’s job has been to control what was said about their organization, who said it and who it was said to.  The messaging has been meant to engage the key audience (publics) by appealing to their needs and interests for the sole purpose of achieving the organizations objectives.  In order to identify needs and interests, publics were listened to, but that “listening” was in very limited, and again, controlled ways. The public relations conditor was always a maker, builder, framer, establisher, founder, author and compiler. It worked.  And then, the world changed.

breaking new ground..,

Along came social media and with it not just the ability to connect and communicate like never before, but a shift in expectations about how publics can and should interact with organizations, and how in turn organizations should interact with them.  The most telling shift in the role of the public relations practitioner is the change in referring to the organizational audience as “communities” rather than stakeholders or publics.  Quoting Dr. Michael Wu, Lithium’s Principal Scientist of Analytics, communities are:

  1. Held together by some common interests of a large group of people. Although there may be pre-existing interpersonal relationship between members of a community, it is not required. So new members usually do not know most of the people in the community.
  2. Any one person may be part of many communities.
  3. They have overlapping and nested structure.  (3)

In the connected online communities, for public relations practitioners it has become less about managing or controlling the organization’s brand, and more about engaging with the community – as the voice or face of the organization.  To be successful on behalf of their organization, the public relations conditor needs to be an energetic and energizing strategic dialoguer who continually engages with the organization’s communities.  The use of the word “dialoguer” is an important one, because it is meant to convey what William Isaacs describes as “the promise of thinking together”.  He writes, “The problems that even the most practical organizations have –in improving their performance and obtaining the results they desire –can be traced directly to their inability to think and talk together, particularly at critical moments.” (4)  By dialoguing with our communities in the way Isaacs encourages us to do, public relations community managers – or conditors (since it’s not about controlling) will lead the dialogues instead of worrying about what is said about our organizations.  Organizations who are taking this approach from Oreos to Starbucks to Virgin have proven this works.  Their organization are viewed as “in tune” and they not only prove themselves relevant to their existing communities, but find themselves growing their communities – and, brand loyalty along with it.

investment in time and resources…

It was no accident that I chose the story of Ceres.  In greek mythology, she is the goddess of agriculture.  In order to have a successful harvest, she called upon her specialists, her conditors. To succeed the conditor knew what the group wanted to grow.  They knew where and how to till the ground.  They closely monitored the environmental conditions, and how what they had sewn was growing. They used the best tools available to them, and hoped for the best weather conditions.  If the weather didn’t cooperate, the skilled conditor adjusted.  This analogy could have always worked for public relations.  It still does.

What is too often overlooked in a story like this one is not just the skill that is required, but that the conditor, in this case the public relations conditor, must also be given the time and resources to succeed.  This requires both recognition and investment from the “C-suite”.

conclusion… summing up

According to the “2012 Global multichannel consumer survey” conducted by PwC, “60% of respondents use social media to follow, discover, and give feedback on brands and retailers”. (5)  As discussed here, the expectation that comes along with this is that the PR practitioner charged with the community manager role needs to be directly engaged with both the organization’s business objectives and their communities. In order to successfully serve both the needs of the online community and achieve their organizations business objectives, the public relations practitioner can no longer be a manager in the traditional sense, but instead must expand the role to one of a conditor that energetically engages their communities in dialogue.  And, as stated above (cannot be too often repeated) this requires investment from the C-suite.

giving credit where credit’s due!

(1)Perseus 4.0 , Perseus Digital Library, Tufts University (n.d.)  Latin Word Study Tool 

(2)Curry, Jenna. (February 20, 2013)  The 6 Things Your Social Media Manager Must Do To Expand Your Online Presence

(3) Wu, Michael Ph.D. (June 6, 2010) Community vs. Social Network

(4) Isaacs, William.  Dialogue and the Art of Thinking Together  (1999) New York: Currency and Doubleday, at page 3.

(5) PwC. 2012 Global multichannel consumer survey