How Do You Plan for Measurement?

Now that PR measurement (and social media measurement) have become buzzwords, I would hope that all of us are measuring at least to some extent. I know that it’s still going to be a while before every single campaign includes measurement, but it’s about time you start planning for it.

While it’s encouraging to know more folks are starting to think about it, sometimes measurement is just assumed, but not logically thought through. This only leads to last minute scrambling and lower quality work. Just like the best campaigns, the best and most accurate measurement requires planning.

If data collection and analysis is something you’ve never had to worry about before, working it into your schedule can mean a lot of guesswork. Take it from someone who knows, it will take more time than you might initially think.

Personally, I like to track campaigns as I go instead of waiting until the very end to do all of the work. If I can dedicate 30 minutes each day (or even 15!) to check in on relevant coverage or conversations about a brand, product or campaign, I get a much better sense of what my time commitment to analyze all relevant data will be.

For example, if you see hundreds of conversations each day, you may want to dedicate more time to data analysis in the end than if you only see a few mentions. It also depends how in-depth your analysis will be. If you simply want to analyze the volume of coverage or conversations, you will need far less time than if you intend to quantitatively assess sentiment and topics of conversation.

As a rule, quantitative analysis will always take more time than qualitative analysis. Be sure to evaluate whether you really need hard numbers before dedicating all the time necessary to do accurate quantitative analysis. It’s easy to get caught up in all the ROI talk, but sometimes you do not need to know exactly numbers or percentages.

Obviously there will never be a hard and fast rule, but below I’ve tried to give some estimates for a few common scenarios.

Qualitative analysis, low volume. If you only need qualitative analysis for a low volume (500 posts or fewer), data collection and analysis should take about five hours. This can be all at once or over the course of a campaign.

Qualitative analysis, high volume. If you plan to do qualitative analysis for a larger volume (more than 500 posts), plan for about one hour per 100 posts if you plan to do this manually. If you’re using a data aggregator or a statistical sampling method, you can cut your analysis time down significantly.

Quantitative analysis, low volume. In general, quantitative analysis will take about twice as long as qualitative. For fewer than 500 posts, I would recommend blocking off at least 10 hours of time for your first try.

Quantitative analysis, high volume. When doing quantitative analysis for more than 500 posts, I highly recommend using a data aggregator or sampling method so you don’t have to manually read each individual post. If you plan to do so, however, plan for an additional two hours for every 100 posts.

My general rule is 100 articles or conversations take about one hour for data collection and analysis for qualitative analysis and two hours for quantitative. Do these sound right to you? What are your experiences with measurement?

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