Social Analytics and the Human Factor: Leaving Ad Value in the Rearview


We live in an interesting transition phase for the public relations industry: digital has long overtaken print, and almost anyone with a passion and perseverance can become a top blogger or online influencer. But while technology moves forward, many in our field still use legacy measurement to gauge success. Frequently, the impact of media coverage is interpreted solely through the metrics of media circulation and reach, or by the flawed and often-arbitrary measurement known as “advertising value.”

While circulation and reach do yield some basic insights, we no longer have to limit ourselves to a shotgun approach where big numbers mean good things.

As the online conversation grows, we continuously work to educate and inform our clients on how best to sift through the data and measure successes and opportunities. Most importantly, we data analysts need to avoid data gathering for its own sake and instead generate insights that add value to client relationships and internal strategy. To keep it simple and focused, we like to begin data-gathering from a three-tier perspective:

What type of reach did we achieve? Circulation numbers can be a lead indicator in coverage value; but should also lead to assessing if we are reaching the right audience.

Were outlets interested? We need to understand if the publications cared about the message we were spreading, and how that compared to past initiatives, whether they were different or similar.

Did readers engage? Simply tracking social media volumes allows us to gain insight on consumer interest, and lets us know where we should dig deeper, focus, or fine-tune messaging.

Initially, just understanding volumes helps us draw surface insights. Simple numbers can help us answer questions about campaign effectiveness and impact. For JeffreyGroup, the surface numbers also tell us where to dive deeper and make qualitative analyses:

Outlet Quality? Beyond circulation, how relevant is the outlet to our market or audience? Mid-level circulation marked by high engagement can have more value than a simple mention in broad-reach media.

What did journalists say? Did the authors churn out the content to fill a quota or did they take interest in the topic and provide valuable analysis or context for our storytelling?

What do consumers say? The social reaction among readership helps us decide if the content was relevant to the reader. From there, keying in on conversations or topics can give great feedback to help us highlight points that created positive reactions, key-in on potential problems, or just gauge interest.

Delving deeper into select categories helps us move beyond volume and towards identifying the value of coverage and conversation. Using numbers to flag important conversations and dissecting those conversations helps our clients transmit messages more efficiently, and shows us how to craft and pitch our stories to ensure repeat winning strategies.

There is value in using surface data and numbers; but if you ultimately want to utilize data to drive success, use the numbers to gather insights and indicate where to work harder. In the end that is the type of analysis that provides value for the client and the agency alike.