Early in the new year is the time when many communications professionals should take a closer look at the previous year’s program metrics and, armed with that data, define what constitutes success for the year ahead. As the industry continues to evolve and campaigns now feature a blend of earned, owned, and paid strategies, you have even more metrics with which to delve into, interpret, and inform your strategies. With so many options, the question then is: Which metrics are the most critical to watch?
Sure, you have lots to consider, but these metrics should not be ignored:
Share of Voice
The media landscape is crowded, and you want to ensure your company is effectively sharing its perspective and and key differentiators. Share of voice is an indicator of how much of the conversation your brand owns vs. the competition. That could be among industry thought leaders or prospective customers, depending on your own KPIs and goals. This conversation can take place through earned media, social media, and owned channels like your blog. Tracking share of voice consistently gives you a picture of whether your brand is gaining or losing awareness with your audience.
Tier One recommends: Conduct a benchmark share of voice audit at the outset of any program, then refresh it on a quarterly basis, at minimum, to track progress. Ongoing share of voice measurement also provides a gauge of when your marketing program may need to turn up the heat to stay ahead of competitor activities. The good news is a variety of technology tools (such as Brandwatch) automate the share of voice measurement process, putting insightful and actionable intelligence about what’s driving the conversation in your industry just a few clicks away.
Earned Media “Kick Butt” Index
Creating a dashboard that assigns values to media coverage is a great way to measure the effectiveness of that coverage in driving positive awareness about your company or product. Metrics maven Katie Paine developed what she calls the “Kick Butt Index” to measure the outcomes of an earned media campaign. Tier One uses this general process to guide earned media measurement for many of our clients as well.
In short, Katie’s approach calls for a dashboard that assigns weighted value to earned media coverage. Stories that feature elements like a key message, a photo, a recommendation, a linkback, a desirable sentiment (that leaves the reader more likely to do business with or support the organization), or a quote from a spokesperson or influencer are assigned a greater value. Coverage that wrongly positions a product or contains an incorrect message is assigned a negative value. You can also go a step further to assign value to certain publications or to the type of coverage (feature/brief/mention).
Tier One recommends: Establish a set process for your earned media measurement and stick with it. Whether you follow the “Kick Butt Index” or another program, the important thing is that you find a system that works for you. This way, you have a consistent barometer. Tracking earned media value enables you to compare campaign results and to set target goals for the year ahead.
As you already know, reach is the estimated number of unique social media users who see your content. Of course, quality is just as important as quantity. All the eyeballs in the world on your content don’t mean anything if they’re not engaging in a valuable way with your content, but more on that in point four.
Tier One recommends: Conduct a competitive analysis at the outset of a program to measure a company’s reach on its social media channels vs. those of the competition, then refresh it on a quarterly basis. It’s a great first step to set goals for moving the needle over time.
Your company is making a significant investment in developing smart content and pushing those pieces out across your earned, owned, and paid channels. But are you being effective in getting people to engage in the conversation and, perhaps more importantly, share your content with their followers? Twitter retweets and LinkedIn and Facebook shares help you know who is spreading your content. And comments, replies, and likes give you insights into whom is participating in the conversation about your brand.
Tier One recommends: Keep in mind engagement is a two-way street. If you want a particular influencer to see and share your content, a great way to start is to follow them and actively engage with the content they share. This is also a great first step in building relationships with social influencers. More on that momentarily...
And speaking of influencers… You may have a bunch of people talking about your brand, but are they the right ones? A Kardashian can make a handbag sell out in hours but all the Kims, Khloes, and Kylies in the world likely won’t be effective at getting someone to buy a data analytics product, for instance. Your ideal influencer could be someone with far fewer followers and little name recognition — except among the exact people who are buying your product.
Tier One recommends: Tools like Right Relevance and Brandwatch can help you identify and build lists of targeted individuals in a specific market that have the potential ability to influence the audiences you’re trying to reach. Remember, it’s not about how many followers they have, but how relevant those followers are to your business goals, whether it’s an ongoing relationship or for a particular campaign.
The communications industry has come a long way in creating methodologies and tools that help marketing teams more effectively measure program outcomes, not just outputs. Today’s challenge is to put the focus on the right measures to assess how effective a program is at supporting objectives and delivering ROI. That will be different for every organization, so take time to consider what will comprise your ideal bespoke measurement program. Just like measuring twice will spare you some headaches when building something, finding the right measures for your communications program can save you from too many cuts down the road.