The foundational element of successful digital programs is listening. For the last several years, this blog and others have espoused the value of listening. It’s a proactive engagement mechanism to be sure, but at its roots, listening is a method for us to gain valuable market intelligence and benchmark our success. Stop me if you’ve heard any of this before. Wait, you have? Guess what? We were saying it a few years ago and it still holds true. The listening we are doing has become more sophisticated, and has begun to expand beyond the realm of PR and marketing.
If you were assuming I was going to say the same thing about measurement, you would be right. Now, it’s worth noting that measuring social media hasn’t nearly evolved at the same rate of speed as listening. There is still a lot of discussion about metrics, processes and challenges to the traditional ROI model. The latter is beginning to fade as the social space becomes more sophisticated, but it’s still prevalent in some circles. Despite not advancing at the same rate of speed as listening, measurement has made some advances. We’re now starting to see measurement approaches that incorporate more than just what you can find in Facebook Insights. We’re also starting to reconcile in our heads that the social media measurement process is not anything different than what we’ve done in traditional PR for years (maybe that’s the problem…for another blog post, perhaps). Again, the line is moving…albeit slowly.
If we can agree that listening and measurement are foundational elements of social programs, and that they’ve advanced significantly over the last several years, how do we take it to the next level? Here are some ideas:
- Integrated listening – When Ken Burbary and I developed the Social Analytics Lifecycle two years ago, we thought it was time for listening to go beyond PR and marketing. And it still is. We’re starting to move the needle a bit with listening command centers popping up at various brands, but the ability to extend listening beyond our traditional communications functions is still a viable initiative. In fact, you should be doing it in some capacity.
- Listening resources – It’s about time that more brands realized the strategic value listening holds and invest in human resources. The ideal location for listening falls within the market research function, but that likely requires additional headcount at a brand where market research professionals are still largely skeptical of social data. However, bringing the disparate data sources together can tell a very powerful story.
- Integrated measurement – I’ve been beating this drum for a couple of years, and I’m hoping if I continue to do it people will see their measurement strategy like they see their communications…INTEGRATED! Companies may be in silos, but the world doesn’t work that way. What happens in traditional, impacts social and what happens in social impacts search. Communications is a cycle, not a stepladder. Stop treating your measurement approach like that.
- Surveys, surveys, surveys – There’s only so much listening data can tell you. It can help you answer the who, what, when and where, but really only scratches the surface of why. If you’re measuring the impact your social activities are having, you should be surveying your online communities. No, they may not be statistically significant in the truest sense of the word, but the feedback is valuable nonetheless.
Whatever innovations come to social media analytics, it will still be at the foundation of every social program build for the foreseeable future. Here’s hoping some innovation happens so I’m not here two years from now saying the same thing. Go forth, and measure!
Chuck Hemann is currently the Vice President of Digital Analytics for Edelman Digital in Chicago. Over the last seven years, Chuck has provided strategic counsel to clients on a variety of topics including digital analytics, measurement, online reputation, social media, investor relations and crisis communications. Prior to joining Edelman Digital, he was VP of Digital Strategy and Analytics for Ogilvy Public Relations. He’s also the co-organizer of the Social Media Business Summit Track at BlogWorld Expo and a frequent speaker on the topics of influence, measurement and digital analytics. Chuck can be found online on Twitter and on his blog.