I recently had a fascinating conversation with the CMO for a global multi-brand consumer goods company on the measurement of social media performance and in particular about EMV (Earned Media Value).
Here is a fairly accurate transcript of that conversation.
Me: I would love to understand how you measure success on social and especially on your influencer programmes.
CMO: Ideally, we’d like to find a simple and easy number that management can relate to, and we are looking to use Earned Media Value as a core KPI to measure success there, including on influencer relations. We see that some of our competitors even use EMV in their communication with financial analysts.
Me: Really? Interesting. It sounds like an updated Advertising Value Equivalent from the PR world. At a time when leading communication associations such as AMEC are now officially discarding AVE, is it not contradictory to push an equivalent metric into the new digital world ?
CMO: I understand your challenge. EMV however is seen as a simple, understandable number that is also easily comparable among brands or regions. We really need some way to quantify all this great organic content the teams are generating, and we believe it’s a good and easy way to put a value on it all. It also gives a sense of ROI to the investment we make to grow our earned media presence.
Me: Measuring success of your brands on social in a consistent way is indeed absolutely critical. It’s interesting you say ‘value’. But thinking about how you typically measure success on communication activities – if someone asks you about your latest TV campaign, would you typically respond: “Yes, it was great! It cost me $2M”?
CMO: No, of course not! We would use “target coverage” and “repeat” as core KPIs to measure the efficiency of the media plan and then awareness and attribution as key outcomes for example.
Me: That seems to make sense. So I am wondering why you would try to measure your success on social media through a measure of cost? How can costs be a success measure then? To compound this; EMV is not a real cost, It supposed to be the equivalent cost of purchasing such content whereas the value of such content lies in the fact you cannot buy it.
CMO: And what about paid posts where we can actually ‘buy the content’?
Me: OK, so…. practically, how would you calculate EMV? What is your methodology for putting a $ to a retweet or an Instagram post? Are you assuming that $ value is identical for all your brands?
CMO: The methodology seems a little unclear to be honest, and does seem to change wildly month on month, which makes benchmarking difficult. Some vendors seem to be able to come up with standardised numbers to value a publication or an engagement. In the end the important thing is that the same approach is used across all competing brands so that our “share of EMV” remains a valid concept.
Me: I can understand how a single metric would be useful internally, but it concerns me that some companies would communicate a KPI to financial analysts that they wouldn’t be able to explain, even on a “market share” basis.
On the same topic, I was reading a post on LinkedIn the other day by a marketing executive at a global car company, quoting “I normally value a “like” on Facebook or Instagram around €0.3-0.4, while I give more value to a “share” because it generates more engagement among other users so I value it around €2-3”.
Does this mean that if I like or share an influencer post, I immediately create €2-3 of value ? If yes… I want that money!
CMO: Well, yes, it guess it’s not real $. It is a “theoretical value”. But what would you recommend as a valuable way to measure success on social media then?
Me: When we work with clients, we help them develop their measurement framework using the Barcelona principles and AMEC’s recommendations. In particular we try to focus on the impact of communication. We’d generally advise against single ‘black box’ metrics that aren’t clearly understandable.
For influencer programmes, we believe “engagement” is a very strong proxy of impact for example. But this metric only makes sense if you track it in the overall context of the objectives of your brand: are you trying to build awareness? Advocacy? Generate traffic to your web assets? Leads for your sales team? It’s not an easy or quick conversation, but one we’d love to have 😉
CMO: I see.
More on social media measurement and influencer marketing: