Social Metrics and PR: More Celestial Navigation than GPS


Share on LinkedIn

Every hour or so, some post title comes across my Twitter feed promising an end-all and be-all data-driven can’t-fail solution to all PR/marketing/publicity needs. I laugh so hard I inhale coffee, then get back to work until the next hilariously misguided headline, remembering anew that the mortal enemy of data is the over-promise.

I am most certainly one of those people who could get lost, happily, for days in website statistics. Scrolling through content popularity, comparing read-time and navigation patterns for various posts and pages — it’s like a tour through the collective mind of current and potential customers, and as such it can be both heady and addictive. Most dangerously, it can lead to utter BS in the world of communications: the scary assumption that all questions can be answered by the numbers, and the inevitable backlash from clients whose campaigns might be perfect equations that still don’t add up to success.

So what are the billion or so data points out there good for in terms of your own engagement campaigns? Put simply and used appropriately, they are navigational aids, providing guidance, feedback, and certain qualified measures of success. Great creative PR may start with the data — where is our audience engaged (or not) and why? — go back to the data — is this campaign moving the stats we care about? — and end with the data — what about this effort worked and what didn’t? — but it requires what the data may prompt but can’t create: the story, the voice, the hook that may catch the big fish. As in so many areas of innovation, the math on its own doesn’t do much; it’s the inquisitive mind using it that can be brilliant.

Armed with or in pursuit of a flash of genius, then, dive on into that data. In fact, I’d recommend some specific areas that are worth paying attention to:

  • Popularity — total traffic, unique visitors, followers, fans
  • Interest — click-throughs from releases/placements, time on pages, bounce rates, exit rates, navigation tracking (where people go next), likes, tweets, retweets, comments
  • Credibility — referring sites, inbound links, Klout, hits
  • Conversions — how many visitors go from a specific page into the sales funnel, contact methods, or other chosen goals?
  • Niche accuracy — comparing search stats to chosen key phrases to verify that your optimization is on-target

Use these numbers and others to craft, judge, re-craft, and assess your efforts. They may point the way to the New World, and they might tell you need a new boat to get there.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Kate Schackai
Kate combines a technical understanding of web 2.0 with classic PR savvy, resulting in online communications that both humans and Google love. She joins Crawford from WordPress development firm TCWebsite, where she worked in online marketing and search engine optimization.


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here