Measurement and Data Analysis Should be Built into Culture

We keep hearing about “big data” lately. At least I do. Data is suddenly everywhere we turn, and more companies are popping up to help us collect and make sense of it.

A few years ago, big data was for IT or analysts or nerds. Marketers and PR folks are slowly jumping on the big data train, too, and companies that are learning to integrate and mine data for insights are getting ahead.

On a smaller scale, more and more we all need to understand how to find value in all of the data our consumers are producing each day (and data which results from our own work). It may not reach the scale of big data, but there are still hidden treasures hidden among news, tweets, check-ins, blog posts and Facebook pages.

So why are so few companies and agencies taking advantage? According to a recent study, only 40% of companies are measuring social media’s performance on a regular basis. While there are likely many reasons for this, one overarching reason for a lack of measurement is a lack of measurement culture.

Optimizing data and measuring correctly (or measuring at all) starts with your company’s culture. If your organization is inherently data-driven, measuring social media and PR efforts should be a logical next step as you begin to use social media in your campaigns. But if your company is not set up to support measurement, you’ll have a tougher road to measurement success.

I don’t mean to say that if your company is one that isn’t know to measure you’ll be unsuccessful. But if you’re at a place where no one has yet to set up a measurement culture, I recommend leading the charge.

  • Consider measurement upfront. Always. Invite an analyst or measurement nerd to your brainstorming or planning sessions. Include your measurement team (or whoever will likely be executing measurement) as early as possible. They will be able to help you start by optimizing individual campaigns and strategies for measurement.
  • Insist on measurement for every client. No matter how small your client is or how small a campaign may be, always insist on including measurement. Period. It can be as small or robust as necessary to prove success, but never finalize a scope of work without including how measurement will be done.
  • Share results across departments. At the end of a campaign, share your results with your entire team, appropriate management and all other departments involved. Don’t leave out a designer because it may seem irrelevant to you. Encourage everyone to read results or reports. Essentially you want everyone to be used to seeing data and receiving a report when something wraps up.
  • Be a broken record. If you’re in meetings wit your boss or your boss’s boss, pipe up and ask how you’ll be measuring success. Every time. Be the broken record who always asks new vendors what metrics they offer. Think about measurement in every conversation you have and make sure it’s always top-of-mind.
  • Ask for help everywhere. When you get stuck or need help deciding how to measure success, ask around. Don’t just ask your team or your boss or your direct reports. Ask everyone sits around you. Ask the designer who helped you on your last project. Include as many people from across the organization as you can. The more folks you get thinking, the better.

Have you had to be the measurement guru in your office? How would you integrate measurement and data into your company’s DNA?

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  • Spot on. Culture is a good place to start but the challenge is in the practical application of making it easy, simple and affordable. Big data can mean big budgets which makes it complex and expensive for the average small business to derive real meaning and value.

    • I agree! Big data is another beast in and of itself. Starting small (just with data social media or other campaigns product) is a great way to start preparing to handle the complexities of big data, though. Or do you think the process is too different?

  • Great post Rebecca (not that I would expect anything less from you).  Web 3.0 will most definitely revolve around personalization of campaigns, products and services and inherently, it makes sense to prime ourselves for this revolution by demanding measurement and data analysis in everything we do.  Woe to the company that isn’t prepared for the new revolution as they will undoubtedly be left behind in the caboose of the data mining era if they don’t start taking more accountability for their actions by tying them into measurable results.

    • It seems some are already being left behind, maybe without realizing it. More and more folks are snapping up people who know how to measure and do it well. You’re right: woe to those who don’t follow suit!

  • Enjoyed this very much. Good reminders to all of us, and measurement is in many cases the only way to prove to some that what social media offers actually works.

    • Glad you liked it! Can’t argue with data-driven value, right? 🙂

  • Anonymous

    Measurement is key and you and I have discussed this and I think might have a panel proposal on this for SXSW #shamelessplug. My take on folks not measuring is because they are either A.) scared to B.) don’t know how C.) don’t care or D.) a combination of the above.

    Being able to measure success will help weed the 49er-style land-grabbing experts because this is the hot shit snakes out of the sandbox and echo chamber. Results not hot air and big words, matter

    • We do have such a panel out there… 🙂

      You’re exactly right, and it’s just not excusable. More folks should start building this stuff into their everyday and starting spreading the measurement is sexy rumor.