I was walking down the street one night when I happened upon an old man, on his hands and knees, crawling about the base of a streetlamp. “What’s wrong?” I asked him“I lost my keys. Lost ‘em and I’m trying to find ‘em.”So I offered to help. Got down and began looking under the streetlamp with him.After a few minutes of crawling about I realized they couldn’t possibly be here. “Are you sure you lost them here,” I asked.
“No – I lost them down in that dark alley over yonder.”He replied.
“Wait. You lost them in the alley? Well then what the hell are we doing crawling about here for?”
You ever get the feeling we’re doing the same thing when it comes to social media?That we’re counting what we can count because it can be counted and not because it has any real significance?
Nah – we’d never do that….
My name’s Rob Clark. I’m the director of insights and measurement at Edelman. It’s my job to go wandering into the dark alleys and come back with the keys.This is an abbreviated version of my talk at Pod Camp Toronto 2011. The majority of that discussion was a lively Q&A session, but we kicked it off with this deck and five keys to an effective measurement program.
Now the one thing this talk isn’t about are tools or platforms. We’re not going to focus on the gee-whiz flashy social media darling of the day. And although my role is in communications, I would like to think that the principles we discuss here can be applied to other measurement problems you may encounter.
So why do we measure?The reason we measure is because we have a decision to make but we don’t have enough information to make that decision. Which tactic is more effective? Do the results justify pushing forward or do they indicate a need to pull back and try a new tact? Are we there yet?
If you don’t know where you’re going you’ll never be able to get there. I believe that even the most intangible of things – such as opinions and emotions – can be measured. If it changes, then it can be measured. But if and only if….
You actually know what the change is you are trying to make. The only immeasurable work is work that was never clearly defined.You can hand a piece of wood to the guy with the tape measure and ask if it’s long enough, but if you never answer ‘long enough for what’ then he can’t give you an answer.
Knowing where you started from tells you how much farther you have to go. You have to understand what the status quo looks like if you’re going to see how much of an impact your actions have had.
Establish a benchmark. A proper benchmark.Account for seasonality. Account for outlier events. The farmer’s benchmark isn’t the size of his plant at the time of sewing seeds, but rather the number of crops collected in the previous year.
………Well. That’s pretty self explanatory.………
It’s not enough to spew data. Numbers alone don’t help us make decisions. “you’re travelling twenty kilometers per hour” …. Does that help you decide whether to speed up or slow down? What if I told you were driving on a major highway? … that it’s the middle of a blizzard and visibility is nil?Context is everything.
Why take the time to aim directly smack dab between the eyes with a laser scoped rifle when a shotgun blast will do?
Remember, the reason for measuring is so that we can make a decision. So we can take action. Once we have enough information to guide our action, there is little value in measuring further.You don’t need to know everything – just enough to take a step….…and to that end
Consider that the relative circumference of the world was estimated fairly accurately in 240 BC with only three bits of data. You don’t need to walk around the world counting every step of the way.
When you know just what level of accuracy you’re after you can often figure out ways to get that information without devoting tremendous resources.
… now at this point we jumped into a really great Q&A session. Just because I’m not behind a podium, doesn’t mean I’m unavailable. Feel free to drop me a line via Twitter at theelusivefish or via email