helping brands make perfect sense of social media, from IAB UK’s social media council

, senior PR and marketing manager and head of social media council, IAB

This week we launched the IAB framework for social media measurement.  Hopefully you’ve seen some of the coverage and the full presentation with all the details, but I thought I’d take some time just to give you a bit more background about why we came up with it, and what we hope having such a framework will achieve.

Why the IAB framework?

First and foremost the strength of the framework lies in its simplicity and memorability – a deliberate tactic to encourage wider adoption within the industry.  Of course a lot of experienced practitioners have robust methodologies already in place to measure social, and we fully recognise that these are making a lot of clients very happy the world over!   Our aim has never been to suggest the industry is measuring it in the wrong way, but rather in an inconsistent way across the board, which makes it difficult to compare or for the industry to grow as a whole. 

I’ve been running the IAB Social Media Council for about 2 years, and since then I’ve heard a lot of people talking about social media measurement, a lot of the time.  Social media measurement is a topic of conversation that dominates and rightly so, but generally moves nowhere fast because this is a complex beast we’re dealing with.  At the IAB we’ve been discussing for some time what to do in this arena that will benefit the industry, and we’re not the only ones.  The answer won’t be found overnight (otherwise we’d have it by now!) but we can start to make measurement more transparent and more consistent, which is an important first step.

One of the challenges of the council is to try to help and inspire a broad audience, from the complete novice to the seasoned professional. So this will seem basic to some but can add real value to others.  The framework is designed to be flexible enough for practitioners to apply their own valuable experience and methodologies to determine the KPIs for each of the 4 A’s.

But we’re always keen to point out that our main audience is advertisers. That’s why 70% of the 250 delegates at our conference last week were brand representatives, and that’s why they were all able to come for free.  These people have a lot on their plate, it’s probably quite safe to assume that they’re not quite as immersed in social media as the rest of us are, and they certainly don’t have time (or inclination) find an answer to this themselves.  Instead, what we need to do first is cover off the basics and show that:

a)     You CAN measure social media in the first place

b)    That this actually MEANS something, and

c)     That simply ‘doing a Facebook page’ isn’t an objective.  You need a real, genuine intent for your social media activity, otherwise the numbers at the end will just be numbers.

The brands with the budgets need to appreciate that ‘bigger picture’ of communications in general, how every tool and technique fits, and need an introduction to this subject like they do with all other digital disciplines.  This framework was created to demystify the complexities of measurement, not to measure, and is another of the necessary educational initiatives that the IAB is responsible for.

Is the IAB framework common sense?

Of course!  Part of the Council’s role is to prove to the marketing community that social media is no dark art, that it’s real life, talking to real people in the right way.  We like to think that by encouraging people to follow the simple I, A and B steps involved in social media measurement, it makes the discipline seem far more digestible to the social media sceptic (and there are still a few left, believe me!)  As a learning tool, we’ll be pushing it out to advertisers and agencies to get their feedback and make sure it helps the planning process – we’ve already tested out on a few Council member case studies, here for example, and it works a charm.

I still get phone calls and emails every week from marketers trying to get their head around social media. This framework will help we at the IAB help those people ‘get it’ (although of course everyone ‘gets it’) far quicker. Take some time to look at the charts we’ve created which list the various KPIs within the 4 key deliverables of action, awareness, advocacy and action.  There’s a lot of things to measure in social media, but by grouping them in this way, you can start to paint a much prettier picture of what social media can really do for brands.

View more presentations from If only….

It’s only been a few days since we officially ‘launched’, to a fantastic response, particularly from the folks who appreciate just how much education there is left to do in the social media space.  We’re genuinely looking forward to receiving more comments on what the industry body can do within social media measurement, and now is the time for all the experts to have their say. Bitching about things is great, offering constructive feedback and proposing viable solutions is slightly trickier, which is why less people do it! If you have a whole category entitled ‘FAIL’ on your blog for example, yours are probably not the kind of comments that will drive this industry forward.

All I do ask is that when providing us with comments, please make sure you’ve read the press release and presentation properly, and make sure you understand it. Absolutely do your research first so that you can be confident you know exactly what you’re talking about, hell, maybe even acquaint yourself a bit more with the work the IAB Social Media Council has been doing for the past 2 years.

And in terms of next steps?  We have a sub-group of the council whose objective is to carry on this work, and our job now is to aggregate case studies to strengthen the benchmarking stage of social media measurement.  The goal then is to work with other industry bodies and interested parties and invest time, resource and funding to take this to the next level.  We’ve made a start, and a promising one at that.

Dave Reed
July 19, 2010

This is a great post and the slides that accompany it are also incredibly valuable. For those of us operating in the Social Media Measurement space, it potentially gives a consistent view of the stats, while also allowing our clients to confidently report meaningful numbers back to the business.

I’ll watch (and contribute to if necessary) further developments with interest!

Laura Dinneen
July 20, 2010

Excellent post, although it’s a bit of a shame you had to write it in the first place to be honest! Having to justify what is clearly a step in the right direction seems a bit duff when it was presented in such an open and straightforward way in the first time!

But this makes a lot of sense, and should hopefully steer the feedback in a more constructive way (e.g.

Looking forward to seeing how the industry can develop this framework further…


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