This week was a significant milestone for the #SMMStandards development effort. Thanks to our hosts from AMEC, we unveiled our first major deliverable and shared a formal #SMMStandards progress report yesterday at the 4th European Summit on Measurement. Dublin was the host city, and despite the many pints of Guinness consumed the night before by 200 delegates at the Guinness Storehouse, we were able to share our progress and roadmap with a very receptive and engaged audience of international communications research and measurement professionals. (Check the tweet-stream at #amec2012 or #smmstandards.)
The highlight of our session was the unveiling of the “Sources & Methods Transparency Table,” our first proposed interim standard. The table is designed specifically to address the challenges clients face in knowing “what’s inside” social media measurement reports from various agencies, research providers and software vendors. The table builds on principle #7 from the Barcelona Principles: “Transparency and Replicability are Paramount to Sound Measurement.” Based on that principle, we created a standardized table that mirrors the “nutrition tables” used by many countries for easy comparison of calories, nutrition and ingredients in food products.
Specifically, the table captures critical information about social media content sources and methods to provide full transparency and easy comparison across analyses: What content and channels are included? How is the data collected? How deep is the analysis? Are multiple languages captured? Via native-language queries? How are key metrics calculated for reach, engagement, influence and opinion/advocacy? How is sentiment coded? How is irrelevant content (bots, spam blogs, etc.) filtered? What proprietary methods were used in the analysis? What search strings were used?
Now that the Transparency Table has been published as a proposed interim standard, we will work with major clients, agencies, research providers and software vendors to get their commitments to use the table, include it in their reports and capture their feedback on what works and what needs refinement. That feedback will then fuel modifications as needed for review by Coalition and Conclave members to deliver a formal “approved industry standard” later this year. While the table itself may seem straightforward, we believe it will play a critical foundational role for clients who need clarity and transparency from their providers — and enable better education of the industry about critical content sourcing and methodology issues that are fundamental to sound social media analysis.
Beyond the Transparency Table, we also delivered a progress report and roadmap for the other five #SMMStandards priorities: Reach & Impressions; Engagement; Influence & Relevance; Impact & Value. In future posts, we will share more perspective on each topic as we march toward delivery of formal discussion guides and proposed interim standards in each area. As part of that process, we would also like to congratulate our friends from the AMEC social media measurement task force for publishing a “plain speaking glossary” and sample “valid measurement frameworks” for linking activities and outputs to outcomes — both of which are valuable contributions to the industry dialogue and a foundation for our future #SMMStandards development.
We look forward to your input and feedback. What do you think about our priorities? How will you use the Transparency Table? Is our preliminary guidance on target? What are we missing?
Tim Marklein, #SMMStandards Coalition Chair
Katie Paine, #SMMStandards Conclave Organizer