How do you gauge the success of your PR, social media and marketing efforts? More importantly, how can anyone gauge the success of their PR, social media and marketing efforts when all they analyse are irrelevant details?
This Manchester comms agency is recognised for its measurement and evaluation by the most prominent bodies in the comms sector; our AMEC awards and PRCA Measurement Champion Agency status are evidence enough. Two years after we were established the CIPR banned AVE— or Advertising Value Equivalent— from its award entries, and In doing caught up with Smoking Gun’s founding principles.
You might think you have scored a great hit in the press, or garnered impressive exposure with your latest social media push. But assessing the actual impact is more complex than it may seem. It’s not acceptable to simply compare value for money against advertising prices when ads lack the breadth and scope of great marketing and PR.
We only provide clear proof to show the strength of a campaign, and don’t try and blind people with nonsense figures. So hits in the press should be as big as possible, but also highly relevant. Social media should not simply look at follower and fan numbers, but broader engagement metrics.
It’s what we mean by transparent measurement and evaluation. Keep reading for a full explanation.
Qualities and quantities – press measurement and evaluation
AVE is based on the size of coverage and how that would compare to the price of an equally sized advertisement in the same title. The modern approach to measurement and evaluation is not.
You can loosely divide the process of analysis into two categories. On the one hand you have ‘quality’. This takes into consideration the sector your brand works in, weighing this up with the status of the platform that has given your brand attention— including newspapers, magazines and websites; and the influence of the person who actually produced the content.
None of which is to say that ‘quantity’ can be ignored. A company that produces professional microscopes might be best off with a name drop in a prominent science journal— read by people who work in and around labs. That audience is the target market.
A foreign language movie primarily made up of silent, black and white scenes in a sparse kitchen will likely benefit most from a review in the British Film Institute’s Sight & Sound, not a national red top. By comparison, a fashion brand with a new line in festival wellies wants a daily newspaper.
More specifically still, measurement and evaluation of media hits must take into account the quality of the person who produced the content. A high profile columnist or critic can add plenty of impact to the coverage.
Social media measurement and evaluation
There was a time when all social media marketing valued was follower and fan numbers. This is no longer the case, and more tellingly it should never have been. In order to truly gauge the effectiveness of your brand’s social media work a range of aspects must be considered. These include:
- Direct sales conversions – It’s possible to track the sales journey all the way back to a social media post with the right apps and software, so do it.
- Leads – This doesn’t just apply to situations wherein a social media campaign is aimed at getting more inquiries, data capture, or email sign-up. Every effort should be made to understand the cause of an increase in new business leads.
- SEO and search marketing – Mentions, and the content you create and share via social networks, contribute to the visibility of your brand online, including search engine results pages. As such this should also form part of your social media measurement and evaluation.
- True reach – Numbers still matter; you want to increase your followers and fans, and you want accounts with high numbers of followers and fans to share your content. But any new disciples you attract, and the audience of any influencers you work with, must be engaged themselves, otherwise it’s kind of pointless.
Sentiment measurement and evaluation
Sentiment refers to what people are saying, rather than simply judging success based on the fact they are saying something. It spans the real, print, and digital worlds, and is about much more than brand mentions. For example, you can:
- Gauge public attitudes towards subjects, news stories, and companies
- Understand emotional responses to particular types of marketing and advertising
The process of comprehensive sentiment measurement and evaluation is labour intensive, simply because there is no single piece of software that fully analyses all platforms you should be looking at.
Smoking Gun’s measurement and evaluation
Smoking Gun is a leading Manchester comms agency, and an award winning firm when it comes to measurement and evaluation.
AMEC— the International Association for Measurement and Evaluation— handed us both gold and silver awards for our approach to assessing the success of client work. The PRCA— Public Relations and Communications Association— considers us a Measurement Champion Agency, and we were ahead of CIPR— Chartered Institute of Public Relations— when it came to ditching what was the benchmark for measurement; AVEs.
We can’t share all the secrets to our success, but we can give a working example of the kind of results we feedback on, which should put all of the above in context…