Voices of CRM

Oct 20 2011   7:39PM GMT

Are social media measurement standards possible?

Rosemary Cafasso Profile: Rosecafasso

Next week, a group of marketers will take a stab at setting up standards for social media measurement.

The meeting, called the Social Media Measurement Standards Conclave, will take place in Durham, N.H. and include representatives from Procter & Gamble, SAS, Thomson Reuters, the Web Analytics Association, Public Relations Society of America, Word of Mouth Marketing and the Association for Measurement and Evaluation of Communications.

Any results could be a huge boost for social CRM practitioners, many of whom are struggling to figure out how to track and quantify social activity. With a set of agreed upon measurements, marketing, sales, and customer service groups could speak a similar language and communicate the value of what they are doing. They could stop wasting time on dead-end social efforts and shift to practices that advance a company’s marketing goals. (Not to mention show top management the payback so they can get more funding).

Then again, this group could be just another voice in an already noisy marketplace.

It is precisely all that noise that drove Katie Paine to start a standards effort. Paine runs KDPaine & Partners, LLC, a consulting firm that has been measuring marketing and communications results since long before the social media. KDPaine & Partners is hosting the first conclave.

“Social media measurement standards are the marketing equivalent of ‘family values’ and ‘homeland security,’ ‘’ Paine said in an email. “The words are being tacked onto every other press release and they mean totally different things depending on your perspective.”

Paine said she thinks the best shot at progress next week will come in the area of setting definitions. For example, even the term “click through” can be interpreted in different ways. Another possibility with be clarifying the differences between web site terms such as unique and repeat visitor as well as unique browser.

“Everyone wins if we can make the terminology clearer,” Paine said. “Right now people say they want standards, but they don’t know what standards they want.”

Paine said it would be a success if the group could simply agree that there aren’t exact social media measurement equivalents to traditional marketing measurements, such as Ad Value Equivalency or Gross Ratings Points. Then the group could identify emerging best practices and help the market “get rid of overblown claims, fraud and [marketing that is] misleading the customer.”

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