Draper-Watts_Pauline_HandP_CROPPEDThis is the third in a series of five blog posts for Measurement Week.

With more money being invested into digital programs, there has never been a more important time to be asking critical questions to ensure that the investment is appropriate to the organization.

A McKinsey Global Survey found that “many respondents agree that their companies’ digital programs are growth oriented, that future spending on digital will increase, and that a large portion of future company growth will be driven by digital efforts” — all of which point to a continued and growing focus on digital media. However, “organizational challenges and a dearth of talent are common, significant hurdles that prevent companies from scaling up their digital efforts or seeing clear returns on their investments. So are limited accountability and a poor understanding of potential value.” In fact, “less than 40 percent of executives say their companies have accountability measures in place, either through targets, incentives, or “owners” of digital programs, while only 7 percent say their organizations understand the exact value at stake from digital.” Hand-in-hand with an increase and diversification of the budgets allocated to digital programs, we will see greater demand for demonstrating the value of this investment, the return to the business and analysis of how to refine the activities.

In many ways, as demonstrated above, determining the value of social media is still in its infancy. Analytics tools abound for various social channels and owned properties with supporting metrics for those channels. Today we can assess the public digital footprint for an individual, brand or organization, we can track friends and foes, we can see how stories are amplified and travel, we can develop programs to increase engagement and drive sales and we can listen and look to protect reputation.

Before determining any sort of value we need to have data and understanding of the various channels. Monitoring not only your own platforms but also the wider world is essential to understanding your audience and its digital interaction with you and your brands. By collecting this data, you can establish benchmarks on engagement, topics of interest, sentiment, your advocates, and much more. Many organizations extend this to looking at competitors and competitor brands too, in order to provide valuable intelligence of what is working for them. This helps to inform strategy, highlight what is working, identify where there is opportunity and recognize where there needs to be improvement. When conducting our social listening audits, I have seen as much value derived from analysis of the competitor as from analysis of the company or brand itself. For most people, social listening is ongoing and real-time to engage in the conversation. However, it is important to analyze this so as to look at the big picture and deliver insights that will inform ongoing practices and behaviors. There are learnings to be found in the data so it is best to not just treat it as a scorecard.

At the end of the day, your digital outreach is an allocation of time, money and resources so we need to ensure that we make it count. With a history, it is easier to set KPIs against your ongoing activities and develop KPIs for special initiatives. The KPIs may vary based on area of business and activity. For instance, average speed of response, time to resolve, and cost to resolve may be suitable metrics for a customer service issue; share of voice and level of engagement may work better for others within the organization; and sales, time on website, and page views elsewhere. Example metrics include:


These metrics need to link back to the objectives. Sometime there are hard monetary metrics to determine the ROI while other times the metrics may be softer. Having the clear vision for what digital activity should be accomplishing within the organization, along with SMART objectives that tie back to the overall business goals, will help to maintain focus and ensure that digital programs are delivering value.

There are various measurement frameworks. The Association for the Measurement and Evaluation of Communications (AMEC) has developed a useful social media measurement Framework that allows you to look at the metrics from paid, owned, earned or program, business, and channel lenses within the marketing funnel. This can provide a starting point with opportunity to adapt it.

As part of the Conclave of Social Media Measurement Standards, I have had the privilege of sitting with some of the smartest people who are looking to determine a common currency for terminology. I have sat in some great discussions on what determines influence, engagement, reach, and impressions; what is the value of a Facebook fan; should “shared” be a separate category or sit over paid, owned, earned; and more. What is clear to all of us is that there are various social media and communications models available and you need one that is fit for purpose – it is not a case of one size fits all. Through the work of AMEC the component parts of the funnel have been honed with exposure, engagement, influence, impact and advocacy overlaid with paid, owned, earned, program, business and channel metrics. This is a simple way of determining the metrics from a desired and achieved standpoint.

This is an exciting time to be part of the discussion and develop metrics that will not only demonstrate value but also deliver insights so that we are all smarter in our approaches to the digital landscape.

Pauline Draper-Watts is Executive Vice President of Edelman Berland, leading their measurement and analytics globally, and a member of the IPR Measurement Commission.

Heidy Modarelli handles Growth & Marketing for IPR. She has previously written for Entrepreneur, TechCrunch, The Next Web, and VentureBeat.
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