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Tuesday, 29 March 2011

CIPR's New Social Media Measurement Guidance

If anyone was still in any doubt, the latest Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) Social Media Measurement Guidance tells it straight. Measuring PR coverage by Advertising Value Equivalents AVEs is pointless: "a greater waste of time and effort you couldn't hope to find". The new CIPR Guidance on measuring social media finally kills AVE and puts the focus on business objectives

You can download the CIPR's full Guidance here (NB it's only available up until 11-04-2011 if you are not a CIPR member)

If you do download it, don't be put off by all the basketball stuff at the front end: it gets better, but not before the sporting metaphors become horribly mixed. I'm thinking the Olympics must be getting to them!

We were particularly pleased to see AVEs rubbished as we recently pitched for a client that had been served by a major agency. I was astonished when the client revealed the big agency was still using AVEs (no names, no pack-drill). Maybe the client didn't want to sanction spending a slice of the budget on evaluation, but not making any attempt to link to client's own business data seems to miss a pretty major point.

We have always tried to take measurement of our work towards real business benefits: more enquiries, more sales, reports of easier sales/getting in the door, better quality recruits etc.

CIPR quotes Jim Sterne: ".. online marketing has been suffering from a delusion of precision and an expectation of exactitude." The authors also point to Brian Solis' blog post: "Influence is not popularity" to underline that quality influencers are infinitely better than a crowd for most business social media purposes.

They admit that social media measurement "remains a work in progress" and that "any robust attribution of ROI to a social media strategy or individual tactic is the exception and not the norm". They point out that different business objectives call for different measures and caution against imperfectly understood or targeted analysis: "Just because you can measure it doesn’t mean you should". Measures are important because "people perform as they are measured, so the (social media) measures must drive strategically important behaviour."

"Investment in social media PR is, by definition, an intangible asset". To measure it needs "media content analysis supplemented by web and search analytics, sales and CRM data, survey data and other methods".

While some of that may be beyond smaller clients' budgets, the need to find acceptable and useful metrics for any client is important to demonstrate added value wherever possible.

PR blog posted by Penny Haywood Calder at PHPR Ltd, Edinburgh, UK. URL: TV Channel on YouTube:

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