If you searched news stories about social networks in the last several months, you wouldn’t have to look very long to find an article about how sites record and report metrics.
In recent months, Facebook has made the news several times due to criticism of the flawed metrics their site provided to users. Conversely, Snapchat has been in the news for implementing measurement capabilities that offer useful insight.
The recent focus on measurement and metrics from social networks has important implications for the PR community, specifically how the need for quality measurement has entered the mainstream consciousness. This focus legitimizes the importance of measurement and the need for accurate data.
In September of last year, Facebook disclosed mistakes in their reporting of average viewing time on its video platform. According to the Wall Street Journal, the numbers were too high, as the metrics only accounted for views longer than three seconds.
In December, Facebook announced another issue with their metrics reporting; the company was undercounting traffic from their Instant Articles platform, which allows users to post their content directly onto the site. Additionally, they announced issues with reporting on engagement with live videos. A previous Media Bullseye post explains the impact of these measurement mistakes.
On the other hand, Snapchat recently premiered a UK and French version of a metric that debuted in the US in June of last year. Snapchat paired with Moat, an intelligence and analytics company, to report to users if video ads are viewed by humans, rather than bots, and for how long. This feature possesses value because it provides metrics from a third-party provider, rather than the self-assessment measurement that other social networks often utilize. The third-party involvement decreases the chance of mistakes caused by the so-called grading-your-own-homework approach used by other social network’s measurement tools.
What does this mean for PR?
The prevalence of discussions about social metrics in the last several months has important implications for the PR community. The recent articles’ criticism of Facebook’s lack of correct reporting and the praise for Snapchat’s ability to provide useful measurement tools emphasizes the bigger push for quality analytics reporting.
In recent years, measurement and analytics have become an increasingly necessary and vital part of the PR and communication industries. Despite the growing importance, the industry has not completely accepted well-developed measurement programs. The cost and effort of a measurement program can provoke skepticism about enrolling from clients and the C-suite. Additionally, a reliance on measurement methods that fail to accurately calculate insightful data, such as AVEs, have derailed efforts to effectively measure PR efforts.
As the technology that enables measurement tools evolves and improves, however, PR practitioners have greater access and ability to measure more effectively. This evolving technology, as well as the increased drive for accurate metrics, suggests a positive future for enhanced, accurate measurement in the PR industry.