There’s been a lot of buzz around measuring the ROI of social media here and other places and it seems to come up a lot during the #pr20chats (PR 2.0 chats on Twitter). Sometimes measurement is a deadly sin (lack thereof) and sometimes it’s seen as a holy grail (can’t get there). Whichever it is, it’s not limited to social media…measuring ROI is also a huge issue for marketers and PR folks too.
Measuring marketing, PR and social media can be relatively simple if you have a plan. And the plan is probably the hardest part, especially getting consensus (management and co-workers), being able to implement it and-most importantly-being agile enough to change on a dime when an element of the plan isn’t working.
I’ll let you in on a little secret, I didn’t learn how to write objectives (the part of the plan that makes it measurable) in college or on the job. Nope! In fact, I learned how to write measureable objectives from the PRSA (Public Relations Society of America) when I took their weekend APR (Accreditation in Public Relations) course about 8-9 years ago. Because understanding how to write a plan with measureable objectives is a large part of achieving the APR, it was also a large part of the weekend course. Since then, I have used what I learned for marketing and PR campaign plans throughout the years and it’s really been helpful to show management if campaigns have been successful (or not) and how I’ve been a contributing member of the marketing team.
I’ve heard a lot of people say that there isn’t standardization when it comes to measurement. I’d say what I am about to share is as standard as it gets… And if you haven’t already picked up a copy of Katie Paine’s ‘Measuring Public Relationships,’ you better rush on over to Amazon.
Some of this you might know, some maybe not. In any case, feel free to share your best practices.
Writing a Plan: The Basic Elements
A basic plan should have:
- A goal (One. If you find yourself writing “and” in your goal, you’ll probably need two plans)
- Measurable objectives (as many as needed)
- Strategies (every objective gets its own strategies)
- Tactics (every strategy gets its own tactics)
- A way to measure
A plan could essentially look like this:
- Objective 1.1
- Strategy 1.1
- Tactic 1.1
- Strategy 1.2
- Tactic 1.2
- Objective 2.1
- Strategy 2.1
- Tactic 2.1
- Strategy 2.2
[This basic plan assumes you know your or your client know their challenge, audience, budget, etc.]
Goal: I want to lose weight.
Objective: I want to lose 10 pounds by July 15th
Strategy 1.1: I will go to the gym 5 times a week
Tactic: I will use the elliptical machine, weights and the pool at the gym
Strategy 1.2: I will watch what I eat
Tactic: I will write down everything I eat
Measurement: I lost 8 pounds by July 15th (I didn’t achieve my goal)
Knowing the difference between goals and objectives
When I ask marketing/PR folks what’s their measureable objective is I often hear “to generate more sales” or “to get our key message out.” These are not objectives…they are goals. And because goals and objectives are often confused, it leads people thinking that they can’t be measured in a truly impactful way.
Outputs, Outtakes and Outcomes: Three types of objectives
For objectives to be measureable they must include (no exceptions):
- A specific desire communication or behavioral effect;
- A designated public (or publics) among whom the effect is to be achieved;
- The expected level of attainment; and
- The timeframe in which those attainments
are to occur.
Basic Example: To increase number of presentation downloads by online public #1 by 20% within 3 months. (Pretty easy, right?)
Once you understand what is required for a measureable objective, then you need to understand what type of objective makes sense: output, outtake or outcome.
- Output: Physical products (i.e. whitepapers, tweets, blog posts, articles, etc.)
- Outtake: What will the publics take away? (i.e. messages, perceptions, understandings)
- Outcome: What quantifiable changes in attitudes, behaviors, or opinions (i.e. did they buy something?)
Here’s the catch:
Outputs are easy and it’s apparent whether or not you did what you said you would in your plan (was that whitepaper written and tweeted out?). Outtakes require bench marketing and monitoring (how do you know where you ended up, if you didn’t know where you started). And Outcomes require heavy lifting. Because, and this is VERY important, Outcome objectives are usually where ROI ties in, and an organization will need to track all efforts and follow them, most likely, through a CRM system, which isn’t always easy to do.
So what’s the point to this post? Well, people are losing patience when it comes to conversations around social media (as well as marketing and PR) not being measureable. Everything is measurable; you just need to make the time to plan for it. And trust me, as I have said in the past, I have never worked for an organization that enforced or required a plan. That said, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have one. A plan is a great way to show, whether you’re client or agency side, your value as a marketing, PR or social media pro. That said, no one ever said it was easy…
What do you think? Too basic? (That was the point.) Not real-world enough? If so, why are we trying to complicate it?
As always, I am interested in your thoughts, experiences and where this is all heading.