Measurement Granularity Depends on your Goals

Sometimes I find myself thinking (and talking) in circles about measurement. Often when I get going on a new project or concept, I find myself lost in the weeds and forgetting the big picture. This, of course, is a deadly measurement sin.

Where I most often get stuck is the nitty, gritty granular details of measurement. Do I want to look at tweets and retweets separately? Do I need to break sentiment out by channel or roll it up?

What I’m forgetting is that all metrics and measurements should tie back to a goal. If I need to slice and dice the data 100 different ways to show success, so be it. But if I’m just doing it because I can (and because it’s fun), it’s most often a waste of time.

The granularity of your metrics and measures should depend entirely on your goals and objectives. Not on which tool you’re using and how many different ways it can manipulate your data. (Although it’s fun to play when you have that ever-elusive free time.)

The most common ways to breakdown volumes of data include by time, channel, demographic, sentiment, reach, influence and conversation topic.

Time. Measuring volume of conversations or mentions over a given time. Generally represented by a line graph or volume comparisons (e.g. There were twice as many conversations in Q3 compared to Q2). There are endless options as far as how big or small your time period is.

Channel. Conversations, content and mentions broken down by channel. How many are found on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc.?

Demographic. Conversations by age, location or gender. How many women vs. men talk about your brand? Where are the most conversations occurring?

Sentiment. Content broken out by sentiment. This could be just positive and negative, or neutral and mixed can be throw in as well. Sometimes focusing on brand advocates and detractors makes more sense. It’s up to you and your goals.

Reach. Which conversations went the farthest and had the potential to be seen by the most people? How far did the average conversation go?

Influence. How many times was your brand mentioned by someone you consider influential? How many times did each influencer mention you?

Conversation topic. Of all chatter you track, how many include a review? How many mention a specific product feature or your latest product? Conversation topics can be extremely granular in and of themselves (Positive review, negative review, comparison to competitors, comparison to object, etc.)  or can be very broad (review, recommendation, comparison, etc.).

This list is by no means meant to be exhaustive, but it’s a start. And these can be mixed and matched almost every which way. You can look at sentiment over time or influencers by channel. Different tools do different pieces really well. But which do you need?

Consult your goals, and understand how much each additional measure will cost. Not only how much a tool may cost to get the raw data, but how much time a team member will need to compile the data. At some point, the cost will outweigh the potential insight or value the measure would give. And it’s likely at some point that shiny new metric won’t exactly tie back to your goal anymore.

Where is that line? How do you decide which metrics are most important to measure?

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  • Thanks for this spot-on post, Rebecca. It’s not an exaggeration to say that far too often, we PR pros get about 6 steps ahead of ourselves and clients in terms of what it is we are trying to achieve (e.g., our goals) versus what it is we need to measure to reach those goals. One can’t realize the former without properly tying the latter back to a project’s overall objective.

    • I couldn’t agree with you more, and I love the way you put it. We just get ahead of ourselves sometimes and measure what we thinks matters without making that ever-so-important connection.