I received this question from Nathalie Seoteman after she read my free ebook on using social media:
How [can you] calculate the value of a company’s online reputation and (marketing) PR 2.0 efforts? What did these activities produce, put in figures and – preferably – in euro’s/dollars? I would like to include both the reputation damage that has been diverted and the positive/negative/neutral online coverage that has been created.
This raises an interesting and very complex question. There will inevitably be tangible and intangible ways to measure the value.
Measuring Positive and Negative Reactions
Assuming that you’re using a tool like Trackur, Radian6 or just Google alerts to track your coverage, the first thing you have to segment the coverage by what Radian6 calls sentiment – negative, neutral or positive. Once you’ve done this for media coverage, video responses, Twitter responses, blogs postings and more, you can get a visual representation of the sentiment over time.
The question then is how do you assign a monetary value to this. One way is to use ad equivalence, which is how much would it have cost you to advertise in a magazine for the same space. The obvious drawback is that this will not cover a significant portion of your coverage and you have to do the time consuming research to find the ad values. But let’s assume that this works for 40% of the videos, blogs and media coverage out there. How do you measure the remaining 60%?
The Value of a Single Customer Won or Lost
I am assuming that you have a sense of your sales pipeline and what the average deal size (let’s keep this simple, ok? =). If you delved into the content of what is being said, how many would say they would 1) hire your company; 2) never work with your company again or 3) are neutral.
I’m making a huge assumption that each person is a potential customer regardless of their company affiliation and title. For example, there are over 589,000 fans on the Skittles Facebook page. If I assumed that each person bought at least one Skittles product that cost $0.75, then the potential value would be $448,500.
You can then do the same with your business: positive = gain average deal size, neutral = zero, negative = costs you average deal size
Conclusions: Not an Exact Science, Yet
I admit that I am ignoring the relative influence and weight of differing outlets, people or prominence of coverage. I also know that not everything can be easily dissected into the three sentiments I highlighted above. But frankly, I didn’t want to turn this posting into an essay
While technology is catching up to help automate the process, I believe that there is still a very manual process involved to evaluate the coverage, put it into the appropriate bucket and then assign a value to it. Hence, I recommend that you start simply – take the most simple measurement and build upon it over time. Otherwise, you may find yourself spending more time assembling reports about your online reputation versus managing it directly.
In the end, there is no right answer for measuring the value of bad or good online reputation management. I hope the above provides a starting point for those seeking to calculate this value.
I would love to hear of how others would go about calculating the value of bad and good online reputation.
Positive Ad Equivalence – Negative Ad equivalence = Total Ad Equivalence
Potential Customer Deal Won – Potential Customer Deal Lost = Value of Potential Customer Deal
Total Ad Equivalence + Potential Customer Deal = Total Value of Positive/Negative Online Reputation
Response to Comments regarding "Would YOU Trust a PR Firm without a Social Media Presence with Your Social Media Programs"
There has been quite a bit of discussion from the original post and on a post by Jeremiah Owyang titled “Walking the Talk: Some Agencies and Vendors Demonstrate Social Media Prowess,”. I honestly didn’t think that my initial effort would generate such discussion, which I think provides a lot of fodder for thought.
I do want to provide my perspective on one aspect of Jennifer Leggio’s comment:
Client service comes first, always. Yes agencies should strive to have a presence of their own but not having a presence on Twitter or LinkedIn for their corporation is not a good measurement — at all.
When reviewing Jennifer Leggio’s post “Is ‘social PR’ for real?”, this paragraph resonated with me:
Agencies need to work hard to ease their clients’ or potential clients’ minds by showing hard metrics of how social programs have worked for other clients. There is also more justifiable pressure on marketers as a whole to demonstrate ROI from social media programs. Clients should start requiring these types of ROI metrics or case studies and not take “this is a new practice” as a valid excuse for the agencies not having proof points. The agency at the very least should be able to show how it’s built its own brand / the brand of its people through social media.
I do agree with the position that a PR agency having a social media presence is not necessarily a barometer of how that agency can deliver results for clients using social media. However, I will argue that an agency’s ability to use these tactics/strategies to build awareness and industry expertise demonstrates understanding of the pressures that clients face and their objectives. This includes increasing incoming sales leads, communicating with key customers, building thought leadership, reaching key audiences, etc.
Besides this particular point, I want to add the following:
I recognize that individual contributors are just as important as corporate brands. I will still assert that corporate brands will be just as important for establishing brand awareness and thought leadership
With that said, how one participates in social media can be dictated based on one’s audience and goals. I strongly believe that having a presence in the right avenues helps to drive an agency’s lead generation efforts
Since I was laid off, I decided to do this research out of curiousity. I knew it would take time and spent a several hours over a two week period to “research” the original list. As I was doing this myself, I acknowledge that I may have missing or incorrect information. As such, I appreciate those who have provided updates in comments or emails to me. I have updated the table accordingly.
And finally, as this endeavor is much bigger than I originally anticipated, I have set up a public wiki for agencies and the community to make updates directly.
A lot of PR firms are stating that they have social media capabilities and can help develop your strategy in this arena. So I thought, how many are actually practicing what they’re preaching?
I decided to see which PR firms were actively participating in social media. [update 2/20/09] I initially evaluated PR firms listed on O’Dwyer’s list of top 100 independent PR firms. This list was based on worldwide fees for firms with major US operations. As such, some prominent firms, such as Ogilvy & Mather, Ketchum PR and others. Since this post was published, the list has been exanded to include firms that have proactively included information in the comments or email. It is now sorted alphabetically and includes different types of firms, such as IR, healthcare and technology.
Some points to keep in mind:
- I looked at if the agency had a blog, Twitter profile, Facebook page (both group and/or fan), LinkedIn Group
- While there are individuals within each agency who have great online presences, I was seeking corporate presence. So some fields may be marked as “none” as a result
- And since I did this myself, I was trying to maximize my time:
* I didn’t categorize the type of PR each firm did – I took the list at its word
* If the blog wasn’t listed on the home page or easily found via a sitemap, I assumed there was none or you don’t really want me to find your blog
* I searched on the agency’s name or common abbreviation as presented on their website. Anything more exotic or too cute, would not have been found
* For Twitter, I used Twitter search or tried to manually type in what seemed like an appropriate Twitter handle
* I used the group search functions found on Facebook and LinkedIn respectively
* I decided not to look at other sites like delicious, slideshare.net, flickr, etc., frankly, because I was doing this myself =); however, I did include it if the agency made it easy to find
- Almost all of the agencies did NOT link to their profiles on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. from their website. I would’ve expected this on their Contact Us page or linked from the Blog but this was very rare.
- While those who had blogs did a good job of putting the blog link front and center on the home page, some were too cute and hid the link under a different section of the website. If you’re one of these agencies and I found your blog regardless, it’s because it was listed on your site map.
- 39 agencies had blogs; 28 had Twitter profiles with one having a hashtag but no Twitter profile; 35 agencies had Facebook Group pages with two establishing fan pages; and 25 had LinkedIn Group pages while two created company pages
So let’s see how this little experiment works. If you’re a PR agency and I have incorrect information, please provide the corrections below or write a post that links back. I will then update the listing as quickly as I can. And if you have accounts with Flickr, YouTube and Slideshare.net, let me know.
But If you don’t have a social media presence, tell me why. I want to give folks the benefit of doubt. I was able to format the list into a table below captured the list in a jpg (couldn’t get it to format correctly, sorry!) or you can download a pdf version of this list. visit the public wiki and make changes to the table.
Table of PR Firms and Social Media Presence
Update: 2/19/09 – This table was updated to be in alphabetical order, includes additional PR firms not on the original list, and eliminates “none” from the table. You can also visit the PR Firms Social Media Public Wiki to make changes.
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3) Using Social Media: Part 3 – Social Networking Sites (Updated link)
Again, the purpose of this eBook is to provide a quick guide for using social media. If you find this eBook valuable, please forward this to your friends, share on Facebook, retweet it or let me know what you think. I just ask that you provide attribution to the site.
Let me know what you think. I look forward to improving this moving forward.
This is the sixth post in a 6 part series on how I using social media. In this sixth installment, I discuss measurement.
Measure What Counts
There has been discussion about how to measure social media and can it truly impact your bottom line. The same could be said of public relations. In the end, it’s measuring what counts for your business.
Personally, I think it’s important to determine your baseline measurements to gauge the effectiveness of your strategies over time. Consider keeping it simple, selecting 3-4 points to track. As you gather more information, you can better refine and expand your measurement criteria. Here are some basic points to measure:
* Subscribers, Followers, Fans: One way to track the success of your programs is by the steady growth of subscribers to your blog, followers on Twitter or fans on Facebook. Feedburner is a nice way to track subscribers to your blog or any RSS feed that you create for corporate updates, such as press releases, newsletters, etc.
* Audience Reach: The key aspect of social media is tracking “word of mouth” or the reach of your content to your key audiences.
Twitter - Tweetburner allows you to create a short URL for Twitter and then tracks who has retweeted the link or clicked on it. You can keep your stats private or public. While this is a great tool, I’ve found that people will create their own short URLs for the content, so you may want to actively search on your Twitter ID for possible retweet. I then add up the number of subscribers for these individuals to get a “number” regarding reach.
Online Reputation: Another way to determine reach is to track who is talking about you online. I wrote a bit about this in my second post – Using Social Media: Part 2 – Search Feeds. The added component is determining the reach of these online outlets. While ad equivalence can be used too, I’m not a fan of this method as I point out in my next bullet point.
* Incoming Leads, Inquiries: There are a couple of free tools such as Quantcast and Google Analytics that provide good detail about your incoming traffic. The key is to closely track the referring sources for the incoming leads and the conversion rates. For example, Twitter is quickly becoming a driver of traffic to my blog or answering a question on LinkedIn can lead to an inquiry about your services.
* Increased Links: Before you start your programs, take a quick snapshot of sites that link to your website. While a basic stat, this can have huge SEO implications for your site, which in turn, increases your visibility on search engines. Check to see if your efforts increase this basic stat.
* Conversation Index: Steve Boyd discusses the Conversation Index as a way to determine which blogs are successful. Basically, successful blogs are those have a more comments than posts. I would think that the same value can be applied to Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. The more that people interact with your company and messages, one can assume the more engaged they are with you.
No matter what you do, measurement has to be an integral part of your program. Identifying the key data points relevant to your business, you can better justify these programs to your executive management. And who can argue with a program that has a low cost per lead and high conversion rate for sales?
Other posts in the series:
Using Social Media: Part 3 – Social Networking Sites (updated link)
This is the fifth post in a 6 part series on how I using social media. In this fifth installment, I discuss blogger relations.
While I would consider blogs an integral part of any “traditional” public relations strategy, blogs are somewhat unique compared to reporters at traditional publications. Bloggers are writing to communicate their distinct perspective on a topic. And most are writing in addition to their day jobs.
I previously wrote a guest post for WebMarketCentral on PR and Blogging Outreach: 8 Practical Tips. Since writing the post in September of 2007, I believe many of the pointers are still valid. I’ve reviewed what I wrote and updated based on what I’ve learned over the past year:
* Bloggers are not journalists: Bloggers write because they are passionate about the topic. Journalists write as a job and part of that job is receiving tons of emails and calls from folks like me. Most bloggers don’t come from the traditional reporter background so treating them as such can backfire.
* Familiarize yourself with the blogger: Previously, I would have recommended reading the blog. However, I realize it’s more reading past posts. It’s about familiarizing yourself with the blogger. What has the blogger written in the past, what is the tone and what is the person’s background. I would even recommend googling the person to learn about the person’s online reputation. Go to LinkedIn and see if there is a profile on the blogger (Note: do this with reporters and freelance writers as well). There is a wealth of information on the person’s background. Take advantage of it.
* Beyond Email Pitches: Commonly, I would send a “pitch” via a contact page or email a blogger. I’ve discovered that bloggers, me included, also pay attention to other ways of connecting. For example, some bloggers only accept pitches via a Twitpitch. Or will take interest in your comment and want to learn more.
* Nurture a relationship: Don’t pitch, get “coverage” and then leave. It’s like getting ready for a hot first date and being taken to a McDonald’s for dinner. Once you’ve gotten a person’s attention, be sure to nurture that relationship like you do for any reporter relevant to your space. When appropriate, connect with the blogger when you have news, drop an email about industry news and occasionally comment to demonstrate that you’re reading their blog. For emails, an added touch is to incorporate something the person has recently written.
* Be Transparent: Whether you’re commenting on a blog or contacting a blogger, be transparent about who you are and what your intentions are. Do I really need to say more on this?
* Grammar and spelling do count: If you’re read the person’s blog, you should be able to identify the blogger’s gender and correct spelling of his/her name. And having good grammar just demonstrates you can write English well. Check out B.L. Ochman’s recent post on this topic.
* Don’t disregard “smaller” bloggers: Never disregard a smaller blogger. You never know who will read and link to a story that can gain a life of its own.
* Face to face is important: While I have met a lot of people virtually, I think it’s important to cement any relationship in person. If the blogger is local, have an open door policy to visit your offices, give in-person demos or just have coffee. If you’re traveling, reach out to bloggers in that town, especially those you’ve been in touch with in the past.
* Monitor and respond quickly: Your never know when a post can quickly spiral out of control for a company or person. You have to monitor what is being said and respond immediately to correct inaccurate information or diffuse potentially disastrous situations. Scott Monty of Ford recently handled a similar situation (check out the article at Fast Company). The key was Scott’s transparency, as well as his personable demeanor in all his online communications.
Other posts in the series:
Using Social Media: Part 3 – Social Networking Sites (updated link)
This is the fourth post in a 6 part series on using social media. In this fourth installment, I look at linking strategies.
I believe it was Jeremiah Owyang who mentioned that your website is no longer the first place that sales leads or customers see. Rather, Google’s search results is now the new home page for your company.
As such, SEO (search engine optimization) has become a strategic tool in every interactive marketers tool box for increasing a company’s presence on search engines. In addition to SEO, bookmarketing sites/services like Digg, Delicious, StumbleUpon, and Facebook’s share application can further extend your news to key audiences. Update: Per comment, claim your blog via Technorati so your posts are automatically catalogued by the site.
Bookmark Your Content: While Digg may be an obvious choice, my perception is that Digg is for more trendy or consumer related stories. Rather, I recommend establishing an account on delicious or StumbleUpon. While the former is more text based, the latter, to me, is more visually driven.
I recommend using delicious to bookmark press releases, website pages, white papers and other information related to your company. If you have videos or interesting images, consider submitting them to StumbleUpon.
Submit Your Link to Appropriate Sites: As I mentioned in my previous post, content posted on certain social networks will appear in search engines. When appropriate, consider submitting press releases, white papers, media coverage and rich media content to these social networks. There are also websites that will accept news releases for their daily news coverage.
Tag Your Content: This is a way to describe the content through keywords. According to Wikipedia, “This kind of metadata helps describe an item and allows it to be found again by browsing or searching. Tags are chosen informally and personally by the item’s creator or by its viewer, depending on the system.”
Add Users to Your Network: Regardless of where you submit your links, each website has a community of users and allows you to add other members your network. Consider connecting with users who 1) have already bookmarked your content as this demonstrates an interest in the subject matter and 2) have a network of active users who are bookmarking content in your industry.
I have to admit, this is one area that I’ve paid minimal attention to. It is a time intensive strategy that has huge implications for driving traffic to your website or content if done well.
I recommend checking out Tom Pick’s series of posts on social tagging at WebMarketCentral.
Other posts in the series:
Using Social Media: Part 3 – Social Networking Sites (updated link)
Cece Salomon-Lee is director of marketing for ACTIVE Network, Business Solutions division, and author of PR Meets Marketing, which explores the intersection of public relations, marketing, and social media.
This blog contains Cece's personal opinions and are not representative of her company's.
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