Recently, Chuck Hemann made the move from Austin to Chicago and joined Edelman Digital as VP of Digital Analytics. Chuck brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise in all things social. I asked him to share his thoughts on everything from Google+, to Klout and even sentiment analysis. His answers are quite insightful and give you a look at some emerging trends in the social space. If you’re longing for more knowledge after you’re done reading, follow Chuck on Twitter and check out his blog.
Nick Lucido: You recently joined the Edelman Digital team in Chicago, what will be your role?
Chuck Hemann: I recently joined Edelman Digital in Chicago as Vice President of Digital Analytics. The role has really three core elements to it. First is obviously helping our clients understand how their digital programs are performing (measurement). Second is helping to build and grow an analytics capability here in Chicago. Finally, to continue doing thought leadership that helps raise Edelman Digital’s exposure in the area of digital analytics, measurement, listening and collective intelligence.
NL: You made the move from Austin to Chicago, that’s quite the shift. Why Chicago and why Edelman Digital? Did you hear about Snowpacolypse?!
CH: Wait, it isn’t 75 and sunny all year in Chicago? I’ve been snowed (forgive the pun)! In all seriousness, before moving down to Austin I lived in Cleveland, Ohio. I think the temperatures are comparable, plus I have a year’s supply of argyle sweaters at the ready for the cold weather.
NL: What’s the biggest mistake you’ve seen people make when they are trying to measure social media programs?
CH: This is a very hard question to answer because nailing it down to one thing is nearly impossible, but I’ll give it a try…As with anything else, you need to remember the five Ps – proper planning prevents poor performance. Too many times we’re trying to measure social programs without any clear consensus on what we’re trying to achieve from the very beginning. We often don’t setup a framework to measure our programs, and thus are left scrambling to put together a “report card” at the end of a set period of time. Planning what you’re going to measure, how you’re going to measure it and how often will save you some headaches.
NL: On the flip side, what’s the most important thing to remember when measuring a social media program?
CH: Again, a difficult thing to pin down to just one thing, but….I think the most important thing to remember when measuring social is that the process of actually arriving at your metrics looks very much like what we’ve done in traditional PR for years. Conducting benchmark research, outlining goals, developing strategies and tactics, implementing the program and measuring is exactly the same process in social. The metrics are different, as is the frequency of reporting (most likely), but going about the process of defining your metrics? Same as it has always been.
NL: There’s been a lot of talk lately about Klout and its ability to measure influence. What are your thoughts on Klout?
CH: I’ve been pretty vocal on the topic of influence, including the role of tools in that process. I wish we had more insight into the black box that Klout uses to derive its scores, but I understand that giving away the secret sauce isn’t in its best interest. The tools aren’t necessarily my concern here. The bigger concern is taking a lazy approach to influencer identification. For example, Klout presents you information on how influential someone could be on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. What about user groups? Flickr? YouTube? Blogs? You see my point. Identifying influencers means identifying people across a variety of platforms, not just two or three.
NL: When looking for a tool to measure social media, what are some of the key considerations you need to make?
CH: Again, tough question mostly because I love Microsoft Excel and doing the analysis by hand. But, I realize I’m in the minority on that. I’m assuming this question relates to listening tools, so I’d say the key thing to really look for is capture. All of the creative UI’s in the world won’t help you if the data is incomplete.
NL: What do folks who are new to the public relations/digital realm need to know about measuring social media efforts?
CH: The best way to describe this for people who are new to social media measurement is to break the discussion into three parts. The first is measuring the platform itself. If we have a Facebook page, this is looking at impressions, likes, pageviews, etc… For Twitter it would be looking at things like followers and lists. The second is looking at how the content itself performed. This is something I’m focused on here at Edelman. How can we create a framework to measure content performance across a host of metrics, not just retweets or likes or comments. Finally, it’s measuring social media programs in conjunction with broader communications measurement. The best in class measurement approaches look at the performance of integrated communications programs.
NL: A few weeks ago Google+ launched and was called the next Facebook. Do you think it will become the next generation of social engagement?
CH: I’ve been playing with it for a couple of weeks and I have to say that I like what I see. It’s a little too early to make any predictions about whether this will be the next Facebook, or Twitter killer or the like. What does seem clear is that Google+ incorporates a lot of the best of Facebook, Twitter and other social channels. Time will tell. I’m reserving judgment until I have an opportunity to experiment more on behalf of brands.
NL: Sentiment is a topic that polarizes a lot of professionals—do you think sentiment analysis is a valuable metric?
CH: Nothing like ending on a soft ball, eh? Sentiment analysis is valuable, especially for consumer-facing brands. Automated sentiment analysis has a long way to go so for the moment the sampling method works best. Is it a replacement for offline brand perception research? Absolutely not. Would I say my campaign was a success or failure based solely on sentiment shifts? Absolutely not. If you’ve read my posts elsewhere you’ll know that I never advocate for one metric. We need a series of metrics, and if sentiment shift is one of your goals, then include it.
Disclosure: Microsoft is an Edelman client.
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