PR News Q&A With Clinton Schaff: Measuring Social Media Success

Clinton Schaff

In the following Q&A, Clinton Schaff, VP, Digital & Interactive Media Group for GolinHarris, says identifying target audiences and tailoring content to their interests are two key steps toward executing a successful digital PR strategy and producing meaningful metrics. Schaff will elaborate on KPIs, social media metrics and more at PR News’ Digital PR Summit on Feb. 16 in San Francisco. He will speak on the panel “Tie Social Media to Your Bottom Line.”

PR News: What are your top two recommendations for developing a digital PR strategy?

Clinton Schaff: They are the same two I'd recommend for any communications strategy. First, identify the audiences you are seeking to influence. Gather data about them, scour and organize the data and identify what content, images and ideas might move them. Then, define your objectives by determining what you want from your audiences and what behavior or activity you want to see as a result of your digital PR efforts.

PR News: What are the key metrics to consider when measuring the ROI of digital/social media initiatives?

Schaff: One great thing about digital is that there are so many opportunities to measure and get data. The challenge, then, is to determine exactly what to measure, so the key here is to define key performance indicators that tie back to your core business and communications objectives. Otherwise, you'll get stuck measuring numbers that don't really drive ROI. Some basic KPIs related to social media include number or subscribers/opt-ins, referral traffic, followers/fans, branded searches, unique visitors, search engine traffic, number and sentiment of conversations about you and engagement through sharing and commenting.

PR News: What are the first steps PR pros can take when tying digital PR initiatives to business outcomes?

Schaff: The key is to first understand the business outcomes that your company or client seeks to reach, and that you need to help produce. Then dive into one or more of these outcomes to find out which components you can help address concretely in measurable ways. For example, for a company that wants to build awareness, measure search ranking, lead generation, downloads, hashtag penetration, conversation volume, social media mentions, etc. The Holy Grail is if you can tie your efforts directly back to qualified leads and/or sales.

PR News: What is one key tip you’ll share with attendees at the Digital PR Summit on Feb. 16?

Schaff: How to assemble a good, old-fashioned steering committee in order to help integrate social media measurement with traditional techniques. By bringing stakeholders together from different business units and functions—early and regularly—PR professionals can elevate the strategic importance of their work and avoid problems that can result from a lack of integration and collaboration.

Attend PR News’ Digital PR Summit on Feb. 16 in San Francisco and learn more from digital communications leaders like Clinton Schaff.