Note From Beth: I’ve had the pleasure of working closely with KD Paine, the Goddess of Measurement, on my next book, “Measuring the Networked Nonprofit” which not talks about what to measure, but how nonprofits can do it. Last month, she was in Dublin at the annual gathering for measurement experts who are charting out the future of social media metrics standards. She published several reports on her blog:
She also presented a webinar debriefing the sessions and implications for social media practitioners. When I heard that colleague Zan McColloch-Lussier attended the webinar, I asked him to share his notes and reflections in a guest post. KD and I are on a mission, with the publication of the book, to continue to evangelize about nonprofits should all become data nerds and embrace the joy of measurement. Stay tuned.
Social Media Measurement Standards: Progress and Roadmap – A Guest Post by Zan McColloch-Lussier
Nothing underscores the infancy of social media better than how we’re currently choosing to measure. Someday we’ll all look back on counting followers, ‘likes’ & Klout scores and it will all seem funny. Hopefully those days are coming soon as there’s a new movement to simplify and standardized social media measurements and better track what really matters. I heard about it this week in a webinar with Katie Paine by the Society for New Communications Research. It made me hopeful that we’ll soon have clarity on what we can and should be measuring from all our time on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and the like.
If you’ve been handling your nonprofit’s social media for a while then you know what a sticky wicket measurement can be. Too often I hear nonprofit communicators and techies bemoan the stats that their Executive Directors and boards want them to track – mostly follower counts and ‘Likes’. However strategists like you know there are deeper insights and more meaningful ways to determine if your social media efforts are making a difference and truly helping your organization’s mission. But where to start?
In her webinar Katie busted some myths about what we’re currently measuring and she didn’t pull any punches. Are you being asked to measure hits to your website as a meaningful indicator of your success? Well Katie calls that HITS = How Idiots Track Success. Ouch! She took on the big buzz word of influence and Klout by making the case that influence is much more nuanced than counting someone’s followers and there’s no way a computer algorithm can accurately predict who is influential at any given time. Agreed!
And those Facebook fans that your board is asking you to count and report on? Well Katie equated those to a Match.com date. She said that you don’t really know who those people are or if they’re truly engaged with your cause. It’s just that they’ve shown some sign of life. Bam!
So now that we know what we shouldn’t be measuring what do we do? Katie is spearheading a coalition of PR and communications associations and 6 big companies (e.g., Dell, Ford Motor Company, Procter & Gamble) to develop and promote standards for measuring social media. The coalition’s works can be found at SMMStandards.com where they have a rallying cry to, “simplify and unify the measurement of social media.” They began working together in the Fall of 2011 and have identified six initial standardization priorities:
Content Sourcing & Methods;
Reach & Impressions;
Influence & Relevance;
Opinion & Advocacy;
Impact & Value.
Essentially, these new standards and guidelines will move us from counting to assessing the value of our social media efforts. That’s when we’ll get real insights on the effectiveness of our social media messages and campaigns.
I’ll be keeping an eye on the SMMStandards webpage and the #SMMStandards hashtag on Twitter to see how this process evolves and learn improved ways to measure the value of social media. You can listen to Katie’s webinar here and be sure and include your boss in the first 20 minutes of myth busting.
I know that Katie is an advocate and supporter of nonprofits. She is Beth’s co-author of a new book on measurement for nonprofits that I can’t wait to buy and devour this Fall. Throughout her webinar she pointed to nonprofit examples from the Red Cross to UNICEF, so she’s paying attention to what our sector is doing.
However as I heard about the SMMStandards group and saw the list of participants it made me wonder if the unique ways that nonprofits use social media will be considered and included in this standardization. Do you think that your organization uses social media differently than Ford Motor or Dell? What types of guidelines for measurement do you think should be standardized for nonprofits and those using social media for social good?
Zan McColloch-Lussier, a lifelong non profiteer, advises nonprofits and foundations on communications & social media through Mixtape Communications.