Following are guidelines to help start an inexpensive digital measurement program and some traps to avoid:
1. Don't forget about the importance of Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, in addition to blogs, when measuring digital media.
2. Track conversations in discussion forums too: They have large readership and influence. In fact, discussion forums are the original social media and have been active since the late 1970s in the form of bulletin boards and newsgroups.
3. Set up Google Alerts for your company or client and its main competitors.
4. Set up a Google Profile, which will likely show up at the bottom of page one in a Google search and has the potential to help neutralize any media/competitive descriptions.
5. Don't rely on just one of the free search engines; use several. Each search engine uses different algorithms—they crawl across the Web to pull different types of information. Some free search tools are Google Blogs, BlogPulse, Ice Rocket and Technorati. Find the commonalities between the results to determine influence or authority. If you find a blog or forum or community in the top 10 of all of the search engines, you have found an influencer.
6. Use several free tools to measure Twitter, such as TwInfluence, TwitterAnalyzer, Twitter Grader and Social Mention.
7. Compare unique visitors to your company, client and competitor websites in the free tools Compete and Statsaholic.
8. Check out the online buzz using free tools such as Addict-o-matic and Spezify.com.
9. Create a free account with Survey Monkey to generate feedback directly from your target audiences.
10. Analyze more than just the raw numbers. One common pitfall is to find the quantitative metrics—the raw numbers—without reviewing the qualitative results to determine what the data really means. Raw numbers can be wrong.
This was excerpted from PR News' Guide to Best Practices in PR Measurement, Volume 4. These tips were authored by Margot Sinclair Savelle,the vice president of media intelligence and digital strategy in the Seattle office of Weber Shandwick. To order the guidebook or find out more information about it, go to www.prnewsonline.com/store.