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"Small Data": buzzword for 2014?

Blog post   •   Jan 15, 2014 10:02 +08

“Big Data” was a buzzword which dominated many of the debates within the PR industry in 2013. However, as Brendon Craigie wrote in an article for PR Moment "big data is becoming an excuse for not knowing what you’re talking about". 

Interestingly the International Communications Consultancy Organisation found early last year that 93% of PR agency heads worldwide believed measurement and analytics would be their main focus for 2013 yet 59% felt PR measurement in general was “too complex".

Does measuring PR need to be as complicated as many Big Data advocates would have you believe?

According to Andrew Smith from escherman, a specialist online PR, SEO and analytics consultancy, here is 4 steps to get started on measuring:

Where do you start?

1. Define Goals and Objectives

"In order to measure something you have to be able to quantify it." 

Andrew warns that it is essential to not measure for the sake of it but ensure your metrics are based on KPIs and SMART objectives. If you don't, you risk ending up with streams of data which will tell you very little. "Data puking" - says Andrew.

Check out page 9 of the CIPR's Guide to Social Media Monitoring for examples of organisational objectives for social media monitoring: 

CIPR Guide to Social Media Monitoring from Chartered Institute of Public Relations

2. Take advantage of Google Analytics

Due to the vast volumes of digital content we consume there is a wealth of data available to tap into for free using Google Analytics unless your site exceeds the data collection limit. You can view all of the details of that here 

Customise Google Analytics to measure exactly what you want to analyse, produce reports and graphs to present to colleagues or clients.

3. Don't rely on inbuilt analytics on social media pages

Visitor Traffic, Likes and shares on channels like Facebook and LinkedIn will give you an initial starting point on discovering what types of posts and content are popular. 

However, it will probably leave you wanting more. Use Google Analytics to dive deeper into finding out who these people are and what action your content is driving (e.g. changing behaviour or increasing sales).

4. Consumer Barometer  
If you work for an FMCG, Google's Consumer Barometer provides an insight into how consumers use online and offline information sources in their purchase process. 

How much should you be striving to understand Big Data? 

"Small data should be the buzzword for 2014," says Andrew. "The trouble with Big Data is that you have access to huge volumes of data but what are you seeking to understand? Just because we can use this data doesn't mean we should, it's a red herring. Unless there is significant value in investing heavily in evaluating this huge quantity of data then you shouldn't."

Why should you measure PR, and what to measure?
Above article is an excerpt from here: Read the full article to get more insights on measuring for PR.

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