Data: This one four-letter word can incite panic in the most stalwart of public relations professionals.
If it seems like there are numbers following you everywhere, that’s because there are. Website traffic, earned media pickup, social media engagement…Understanding these performance metrics and communicating them to others is an inescapable job requirement.
Here are three ways to stay clear of trouble when monitoring and measuring your brand’s communications.
Pay attention to quality over quantity.
When working with analytics, it’s easy to hear what other brands are doing and get caught up in a number.
“More is not always better,” says Eden Spodek, a Toronto-based digital strategist. “What does it mean to have 5,000 Likes on a Facebook page? So you got 36 retweets on a tweet, but is that doing anything for you?” Case in point: She worked with one client who had a very small social media following, but a deeply loyal one that would respond with comments (and purchases) to most of her posts.
The quantity of social activity going on around your brand is only a fraction of what you should look at. Analytics can also give you a solid picture of how your content is being received and by whom, information that is critical to future campaigns.
It takes the careful eye of a PR professional to not accept the numbers at face value and provide context.
Social media is tricky to nail down so when you find success, it can be tempting to try and replicate it again and again.
Although it’s ok to celebrate your victories and figure out what made a particular campaign successful, don’t allow your efforts to stagnate.
“You can get into a comfort zone,” says Gary Edgar, managing director of Ruckus Digital. And he doesn’t mean it in a good way.
Social media algorithms and best practices change all of the time. Even if something is working today, doesn’t mean it will tomorrow. You need to stay current on how social networks treat user content and you need to experiment with new tactics on a regular basis.
Know how to report your analytics clearly.
Analytics are not just useful at developing and improving your campaigns, but also demonstrating the value of your work.
However, if your executive team or clients don’t understand what they see in your reports, it’s all for naught.
The key is defining your goals and KPIs in advance so that everyone sees the same thing when they look at your numbers.
If the numbers aren’t telling you the full story, it may be time to invest in tools that provide more meaningful insight. Although free tools can get you started, social monitoring subscriptions offer in-depth analytics that help you gauge success and benchmark campaigns.
Amanda Hicken is PR Newswire’s senior manager of strategic content. Follow her on Twitter @ADHicken for tweets about the media, marketing, Cleveland, and comic books.