Measurement Works

  from Angela Sinickas, ABC


December, 2011

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his issue of Measurement Works focuses on measuring and using social media and other forms of peer-to-peer influence. We hope you consider contributing your own suggestions and stories to share with your peers in future issues. To share this newsletter with colleagues, use the "Forward" link at the bottom of this column.


In this issue:

  • Client project: Social media findings from external and internal research projects
  • Slides: How to measure social media
  • In my opinion:  Mike Klein shares his insights from Denmark on how to use qualitative research to measure the impact of your social media.
  • Tip of the month: How to interpret click-through rates for websites and social media 
  • Article: Who needs surveys when you can scan social media?
  • Workshops:  Cape Town, New York, Barbados, Chicago; Webinars on Dashboards and ROI
  • Online forums: The merits of different clipping services, tracking usage when overhauling an intranet, recommendations for social media monitoring services
  • Discounts: $400 off ALI conferences; FREE Sinickas Comms Training audio CDs   


Who needs surveys when you can scan social media?

A SinickasBy Angela Sinickas, ABC  


Seeing what people are saying about your organization on social media provides a window into your audience's perceptions. However, those perceptions might be skewed just as much as if the window you're looking through is clouded or cracked. (This article was originally published in Melcrum's SCM journal.)


Have you ever wished you could be a fly on the wall to listen in on conversations your key stakeholders are having on important company-related topics? Or that you could plug your headphones into the rumor mill? Well, with access to social media, you can virtually do that. You can instantly know how your audience is responding to important issues facing your organization. Think of it almost like non-stop focus groups,
without the difficulty of scheduling people or the cost of hiring an objective consultant to facilitate the discussion. However, your scanning findings do need to be interpreted carefully before your leadership decides how to act on what they're hearing.

Drawbacks to social media scanning
The major drawback to relying exclusively on social media monitoring for all your research needs is that the people you're hearing from are probably not reflective of your entire audience. First, the people commenting online will not fully include any audience 
subgroups that have less than constant online access. Even more important, though, is that that people who are commenting on certain topics are more likely to have a strong vested interest in those topics - either as proponents or by being threatened by them - than the majority of your total audience who might not be choosing to follow developments on that topic, let alone engaging in them. 

In essence, your findings would be as skewed as if you conducted focus groups only with people who volunteered for them. You'll learn some interesting insights that apply to part of your audience, but you won't know if they represent serious trends or if they are true only of the people with a high interest in the topic. Employees are especially hesitant to be candid since they might have something to lose if management becomes annoyed with their viewpoints. It could be dangerous to assume that all employees are welcoming a major change based on the favorable comments of just a few people trying to curry favor with management.

Surveys are conducted by polling a random sample of the audience and ensuring that the responses come back still in a representative balance of the entire population. Surveys are also conducted ensuring a sufficient number of respondents in the random sample so that results can be projected to the entire group you're researching within a relatively small margin of error. Neither of these criteria is fulfilled when you scan social media. 

 Client Project:  

Social media findings from a variety of client projects

Testing potential new media for clients:   As part of a customer communication effectiveness survey, we asked high-level executives about their likelihood of using various new media. While RSS feeds were the least familiar of the tools, once we explained each tool, RSS feeds were by far the most likely tool they would use and value. 


Testing potential new media for employeesA few years ago a multi-national consulting firm tested which new media might be most useful to their employees. By far, the most preferred source was a social networking type of employee directory. The network they created has resulted in the selection of project teams with the best combination of experience for each assignment, as well as consultants who are far more satisfied with their career development because of the greater range of projects they're being tapped for.
2011-12 Social media chart

Focus group insights on social media: One client who piloted discussion forums and commentary on e-newsletter articles several years ago wanted to gain insight behind usage of these tools as part of a larger focus group study on the effectiveness of traditional and newer types of channels. While usage statistics showed how many people were following or participating in the social media tools, the focus groups provided more insight into which subgroups of employees and managers were more or less likely to participate--and why. Lack of time was a drawback for many customer-facing employees, and fear of having their names associated with comments were issues for others.  Several participants who had commented online in the past were frustrated by the lack of answers from management to questions that had been posted. (See illustration for details.)

Access and usefulness of internal social media: A recent client included Yammer and their employee blog in the list of communication channels being surveyed. Although only 4% did not have access to their intranet, 34% believed they didn't have access to Yammer and 13% said they had no access to the blog, even though both of these social media tools "live" on the intranet and don't require any special passwords for access. Increasing the visibility of these tools and where to find them was the first step needed to lead to increased usage.   

 In My Opinion 

Qualitative measurement and the Social Web

Mike Klein

By Michael Harry Klein

Mike Klein is Communication Partner and Social Communication Lead at Maersk Oil in Copenhagen, Denmark.  He is also the author of  From Lincoln to LinkedIn - The 55 Minute Guide to Social Communication.


In the realm of the Social Web, it is easy to get focused on quantitative measures of success:  hits, "likes," tweets and retweets as primary examples.  But the power of social networks requires a willingness to treat members and correspondents as inherently unequal.


What's required to connect the power of social networking to the power of measurement is a more qualitative approach, one that identifies the people in the network who have the most connections, the best connections and the most willingness to share their opinions with their connections. 


Conceptually, this is not a new idea. Identifying effective advocates and people with strong connections is an activity that goes back to the early days of society.  But how to do it using today's technologies?

1)      Social mapping: An often-expensive exercise, but one capable of forming a map of your key networks and, most importantly, identifying the key "bridges" and "hubs" that connect people to ideas and actions.

2)      Social inventorying: Asking people (through bespoke surveys or as part of larger measurement exercises) to identify those who they have discussed key topics with in a set period of time.

3)      Stakeholder mapping: In a closely held group, identify perceived influencers and their areas of influence, along with their perceived degree of support for key initiatives.

4)      Content sources: Identify those in an online network who have strong propensities to generate content and those who have large followings.


All of these approaches have limitations on their own, but together, they provide a strong range of qualitative measures that can identify which people in a network "are more equal than all of the others."

To submit a story of how you've been using research and measurement,

 send an email, with the following information and your photo attached:

    • Your name, title, organization and location
    • Which Sinickas resource inspired you (workshop, manual, tool, article, etc.)
    • What you've done with the information you learned
    • What impact it had on your audience, your organization or your career.  

Online Forums

Useful measurement discussions at LinkedIn

Members of the IABC forum can participate in a discussion of what types of usage to track when making major changes to an intranet.
A query has been posted on CommScrum asking for advice about social media monitoring services or software.
Members of the PR and Communication Professionals forum are comparing the merits of various media "clipping" services.

Tip of the Month

Evaluating Click-Through Rates 


While it's tempting to compare your click-through rates with other organizations, beware of several hazards: (1) Some newsletters are designed for most people to click through, others are designed to give all key points in the main posting and only some people are intended to click for more. (2) Comparisons will be more meaningful if raw numbers are put into context. E.g., measure what percentage of employees at work in a particular month read the newsletter, rather than raw numbers that will vary by non-communication factors like heavy vacation months. Also measure click-throughs per article, rather than per issue of a newsletter to take into account the varying number of potential clicks available.

(Read the entire tip ) 


Slides of the Month

& More Articles 

Presentation Slides:

Measuring Social Media 



Invest 2011 Budget for 2012 Benefits

If you expect to have left-over budget this year, consider investing now for measurement tools or training you can use throughout 2012.

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In the next few months Angela Sinickas will be conducting training on CEO communication, ROI, electronic channel measurement, and becoming a strategic partner instead of an order-taker.

(See details & full calendar)


  • Dec. 12, Cape Town, South Africa (IABC)
  • Jan. 31, New York (ALI Intranet 2.0 Conference)
  • Feb. 16, Webinar on creating dashboards (PRSA)
  • Feb. 23, Barbados, CEO Communication Training (Brainwave)
  • Feb. 24, Barbados, Extreme Make-over (Brainwave)
  • April 19, TBA, on measuring e-communication (ALI)
  • May 22, Webinar on communication's ROI (PRSA)
  • June 24, Chicago, Extreme Make0ver (IABC)


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Jan. 31 in New York

April 19 (TBA)

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Measurement Works aspires to be a useful resource for communicators with a need to measure, but without a great deal of time, money or expertise. Please send in any questions you have about research and measurement, and contribute your own experiences in having conducted measurably successful communi-cations for others to learn from.



Angela Sinickas, ABC

Sinickas Communications, Inc.


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Measurement Works 

From Angela Sinickas, ABC

December, 2011