It is often the virality and anonymity of social media that gathers the most public attention, but another important aspect of this shift has been a move toward increasing measurability. Measuring the impact of PR efforts has long been a problem in the communications field as audiences for print and broadcast could only ever be estimated. However, with social media and other forms of online media on the rise, PR and communications professionals now have a mass of data at their disposal that can provide hard metrics to better understand the impact of PR efforts.
This mass of social data has the potential to be an incredible source of information, but the vast quantities and varieties of data and analytics now available mean that PR/communications professionals need to learn how to pull insights from this ocean of information.
Here are six tips for PR professionals in all industries to get the most out of social data:
1. Use alerts to be warned of spikes in activity
Knowing when a story is gathering momentum, whether it’s positive or negative, is key for PR professionals and ideally you want to catch these trends as they develop. By using automated alerts that contact you when a) significant changes in the volume of a conversation occur, b) certain keywords are mentioned or c) an important influencer mentions your company/client, PR professionals can stay ahead of the game
2. Understand types of conversation about your brand.
Whether in a crisis situation or not, being able to identify key trends in social conversations is a great way of understanding the customer and the public perception of your brand or company. As the volume of mentions about topics linked to your company or client is measurable, these topics can then be easily ordered in terms of importance and influence.
3. Identify and keep track of influencers
Social media has in part given rise to industry influencers with gigantic followings who can have a significant impact on the reputation of your company or brand. Understanding what these influencers are saying is therefore pivotal. Social intelligence can show you who is discussing your brand the most, whether they are posting positive or negative comments and how often their posts are shared.
4. Use predefined dashboards to save time
Sometimes finding all the metrics you need in one place is difficult and it can also help to view comparative metrics side by side. This is where predefined dashboards for specific use cases can help. For example, in crisis management being able to see positive and negative mentions and the themes of negative mentions side by side can give you an instant view of exactly what conversations are taking place, at what volume and around which topics.
5. Integrate social data with other data to get a fuller picture
With so much data coming from so many different angles, it’s important to be able to quickly and easily integrate your social data with data from other sources. For PR professionals, combining print and broadcast impressions with online mentions can give you a clearer idea than ever before of exactly what impact your campaigns are having
6. Find and track key hashtags
Hashtags are ever-present online, extending far beyond their original function on Twitter. Aside from being an efficient way to order social media posts, hashtags also play a key role in driving viral content and can be a useful way to spread messages. Using social intelligence, communications professionals can track both their own hashtags and hashtags related to their industry and then analyze the volume and tone of discussion to optimize PR strategy.
There are of course many other important metrics for PR professionals to keep track of such as comparing share of voice statistics with key competitors and tracking the potential reach and engagement level of your PR campaigns. But with these six tips, PR pros can confidently step out on to the path toward social data literacy.