Measuring success from social media activity will continue to be a thorny issue for digital marketers in 2009, according to Econsultancy’s recently published Online PR Trends Briefing.  

Although companies have been experimenting with social channels for a number of years, widespread adoption (including much more participation on Twitter) coupled with recessionary fears put the spotlight on demonstrating value during 2008.

The coming 12 months will be about establishing best practice guidelines to deliver successful Online PR strategies and social media campaigns.

A key part of this is understanding how to use metrics effectively in order to measure success. However, an ongoing problem for the industry is that Online PR as a discipline is poorly defined in the first place, which can make it difficult to know exactly what to measure.

It’s important to understand that Online PR is about defining your brand and co-ordinating customer communication at every touchpoint.

Metrics such as improvements in search can be an effective way to benchmark Online PR, but such measures neglect the wider value of company reputation.

In addition, the lack of wider industry standards is preventing companies from being able to validate the outcomes from buzz monitoring technologies, and benchmark success across various campaigns.

As Econsultancy’s Online PR and Social Media Consultant, Michelle Goodall maintains, the responsibility for defining Online PR falls on the shoulders of agencies and specialists.

PR professionals must clearly communicate their Online PR offering to their clients as further investment in this area will be driven by tangibly demonstrating ROI.

Econsultancy is hosting 2009’s first MeasurementCamp this week in association with social media agency, Nixon McInnes, which will explore ways of measuring social media conversations and communications.

For more trends, statistics and best practice, please see Econsultancy’s Online PR Trends Briefing, available as a free download to registered users.