Is social media and digital advertising drowning in a sea of fakery?


(Note: this article was first posted on my LinkedIn profile on Thursday, May 8th, 2014)

Did you know that:

61.5pc of web traffic is not human.

57pc of online video ads are unviewable.

Or watch Bob Hoffman’s recent keynote speech at Advertising Week Europe:

These are just some of the pointers that have emerged in recent times to suggest that a lot of activity in the world of social media and digital advertising is worthless fakery. Worse still, many people are making money (or measuring their apparent success) on the back of numbers that aren’t a true reflection of reality.

And this is a big problem. Particularly with regard to measurement, evaluation and ROI – because many people may be making decisions about time, money and resources based on data that bears no relation to the truth.

Take Twitter followers for example. Imagine your Tweet is ReTweeted by an account with a high number of followers. You might be tempted to say that this single act has resulted in a certain number of impressions or opportunities to see being created. Set aside issues such as how much Twitter content a real human being can consume in a day on their small mobile device screen (which is where most people consume social content).

What if many of those potential impressions were simply false – because the Twitter followers concerned are fakes?

I’ve found the Fake Follower tool from statuspeople.com a fantastic sanity check over the last 12 months. It has been really helpful at showing which accounts have large numbers of fake followers.

In fact, some people argue that high profile, high follower accounts are more prone to gaining fake followers. Take @bbcbreaking for example.

bbcfake

 

On the surface, it has 9.68 million followers. If your client was featured in a story shared by BBC Breaking News, you might be tempted to add 9.68 million to your reach figure. But run that account through the Fake Follower tool and you find that 44pc are fakes – which equates to roughly 4.25 million accounts. Nearly half of @bbcbreaking’s reach figure isn’t real. Even the apparently “active” Twitter accounts only total around 13pc – or roughly 1.25 million (not a small amount, but a lot less than the headline figure of 9.68 million).

Trying to get a sense of true reach is important. Not least in terms of expectation setting.

Getting a high profile account like BBC Breaking sharing relevant content might lead you to expect a certain number of people reading and engaging with that content. Let’s return to our fictitious piece of coverage. If @bbcbreaking shared a piece that featured your client, you might anticipate tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of people clicking that link to go and read the piece.

However, the data doesn’t support this. BBC Twitter accounts all seem to use a branded version of the bit.ly URL shortener. As a result, anyone can see the click through data for shared BBC links (or any bit.ly link for that matter – simply append a ‘+” sign at the end of any bit.ly link and you’ll get taken to the data page for the link).

Here’s a Tweet posted today at 8:59 AM.

Pillinger

By 4pm, it had received 320 Retweets (apparently the second most shared BBC web site story that day at time of writing). So, in theory, this Tweet would have been potentially viewable by the 9.68 million followers of @bbcbreaking as well as the additional shares from the ReTweets. So how many clicks has the story received 7 hours later? 10,000? 100,000? No, 2,484. (Given the half life of a typical Tweet, it is unlikely this Tweet will see much more in the way of engagement or clicks from now on).

bitly

Just based on @bbcbreaking’s own follower numbers that means a CTR of 0.02pc. Of course, that figure can be explained if you consider that 44pc of the apparent audience isn’t real – and that even the “real” audience won’t necessarily have even seen the original Tweet.

But this mismatch between surface metric and reality is seen elsewhere. Publishers that buy cheap web traffic to boost their visitor numbers to maintain their CPM ad rates to advertisers. Journalists being renumerated on the basis of page views – leading to writing stories to simply generate traffic (any traffic) to again boost visitor numbers for the purpose of maintaining ad rates. Twitter followers, Facebook fans, YouTube views, web traffic, you name it – all of these things can be cheaply faked and sold to those who stand to gain by artificially inflating the metrics that many people rely on to measure success.

Raw web traffic remains a key metric used by people to judge success. But even that won’t necessarily lead to engagement or action. ChartBeat CEO Tony Haile wrote recently that there is no correlation between traffic and engagement.

“For 20 years, publishers have been chasing pageviews, the metric that counts the number of times people load a web page. The more pageviews a site gets, the more people are reading, the more successful the site. Or so we thought. Chartbeat looked at deep user behaviour across 2 billion visits across the web over the course of a month and found that most people who click don’t read. In fact, a stunning 55% spent fewer than 15 seconds actively on a page. The stats get a little better if you filter purely for article pages, but even then one in every three visitors spend less than 15 seconds reading articles they land on. The media world is currently in a frenzy about click fraud, they should be even more worried about the large percentage of the audience who aren’t reading what they think they’re reading.”

Getting a handle on true reach and engagement in social media and digital advertising is crucial. Unless you establish baselines of success on reality, you are inevitably going to end up disappointed and/or wasting valuable time, money and effort on the wrong things.

In short – don’t rely solely upon easy to access metrics to measure success. And certainly demand to know exactly how a metric is calculated. Sooner or later, reality has a nasty habit of rearing its head.

 

 

Is online press coverage the best form of SEO?


When analysing Google SERP results, you often find that the top ranked pages are press articles.  And press articles that have been published very recently.

Given all the recent kerfuffle about online press releases and the whole “no follow” links issue, it made me realise that perhaps PR and SEOs are barking up the wrong tree.

Isn’t online press coverage one of the most potent forms of SEO available?

Let’s take an example. If you search on Google for the phrase “social media analytics” (at least in the UK), then the page you are likely to find occupying the top slot (or in the top 3, because all results are personalised) is this one:

http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2013/jun/10/effective-social-media-analytics

This is an article published on The Guardian site on June 10th of this year.

Why is this page ranking so highly  ?

MajesticSEO

One of they key factors is clearly domain authority.   According to MajesticSEO, The Guardian site has an overall Trust Flow score of 92 out 100. Given that domain authority is generally accepted as still playing a big role in SERP ranking, that would probably partly explain why this article is doing so well

Also, the content of the piece is clearly relevant to the search query.

But what is the PR (or media relations) value of this article?

I confess I have a vested interest in talking about it.

The piece refers to a number of people and organisations. I’m pleased to say that I was one of them.

In an ideal world, the article would have contained a link back to my website. I could have then used this to measure exactly how many people were motivated by the story to find out more about my consultancy and possibly gain me new business.

However, there is a way of indirectly measuring the impact of the article on brand awareness – brand search volume to my own site.

Looking at my Google Analytics reports, I could see that brand search volume on the terms   “escherman” and “Andrew Bruce Smith” rose 4 fold on June 10th and 11th compared to my average daily volumes for the previous 6 months (and certainly higher than compared to the same period last year).

Better still, using attribution analysis, I was able to deduce that a combination of a branded search on June 11th and a subsequent visit via my blog led to paying business via a website generated enquiry.

 What was the input cost for the online press coverage?

I could argue that the cost to me was the 20 mins I spent on the phone to journalist Danny Bradbury who was writing the piece. So what is 20 mins of my time worth?

Compared to the value of the work generated, I could argue that my ROI on that piece of press coverage is around 50:1.

Of course, there are a number of caveats here.

First, although I know that branded search increased in the time period, and I’m fairly certain I can attribute that to the press article, did everyone discover that article via search? Clearly the link was shared on social networks, so the content wasn’t necessarily discovered by search. But given the overall search volume on Google for the term social media analytics, I think can at least attribute a portion of that to search discovery.

Also, although I only spent 20 mins on the phone to Danny, I have also built a relationship with him over 20 years or so – if I was being purist, perhaps I should factor in the investment made in that in order to arrive at the I of my ROI equation.

But setting all of that aside, I do think the above example has some key points for PRs looking at the interplay of media relations and SEO.

What are the implications for PR?

One of the key things to take away from this is that although SEO typically focusses on techniques to get your own or your client’s content to rank highly, you shouldn’t discount the fact that relevant press coverage on high authority sites may well stand a far greater chance of ranking highly in SERPS. The investment in time, money and resource to get your client’s own content to rank highly on certain keyword terms may not be justified. However, getting your client written about and linked to on high trust, high authority media sites may well have a far greater chance of ranking well.

Not only that, if that press coverage does contain a link back to your own or your client’s site, you have an incontrovertible way of measuring the click throughs, as well as the behaviour of those visitors in relation to a defined goal with an economic value – either sales, leads, content consumption, etc.

Even if the coverage doesn’t contain a link, so long as the brand is mentioned, there may be a way to isolate the impact on branded search – and again, to see what contribution this has made to goals with values attached to them.

Things to consider when pitching a story to a journalist from an SEO perspective

The story you pitch clearly remains paramount. But think about the keyword phrases your client wants to rank well for. Are you building a credible story that will compel the journalist to use these phrases?

Also, always be thinking about how you can persuade a journalist to include a link to a relevant client page. Simply asking the journalist to link is probably not the answer (although some may argue that if you don’t ask you don’t get).

A better way is make the use of the link vital to the story.  The journalist will always be asking the question: “is this link going to provide additional value to my readers?”

Helping clients to understand the value of a great story pitch and helping to create the compelling supporting content on their own sites that will make journalists want to link to the client’s content should be a mindset more PRs should adopt.

In summary, online press coverage can be your most potent weapon in gaining great SEO results. Given Google’s stated desire to reward content that sits on high trust, high authority sites, getting online press coverage on well respected media sites should give you a triple win – trusted awareness, genuine traffic from real and relevant human beings (either directly or by branded search) – and a means of measuring real economic outcomes rather than the reaching for the easy crutch of OTS and impressions.

Network topology in action with Traackr: CIPR Share This Too


As my fellow CIPR Social Media Panel member Rachel Miller has already ably blogged, Share This Too is due to be published by Wiley at the end of August. 

My contribution to this edition is a chapter on network topology – the study of the structure of networks. And in a very timely and helpful co-incidence, I’ve just recently gained access to a practical example of network toplogy in action with direct relevance to the world of social media and PR.

Many of you will already be familiar with Traackr. For those who aren’t, it is probably best described as an influencer identification tool. It allows you to easily build lists of key influencers relative to a specific topic or issue by looking at the reach, resonance and relevancy of individuals across all the major social platforms, as well as blogs and media outlets.

In the last week, Traackr has announced the availability of a new network analysis function. In simple terms, it now allows you to actually visualise the structure of relationships within your list of influencers.

It also allows you to see people who aren’t already part of your influence list – and yet should be – based upon their relationships with people who you are already targetting.

To provide an example, I’ve created a project in Traackr based around the topic of social media analytics. In order to help Traackr determine who the most relevant influencers might be for your chosen topic, you have to provide a list of keywords that would best match the content and interests of the people you are seeking. The more relevant the keywords you provide, the more accurate the list that Traackr creates.

In the case of social media analytics, I’ve used Google’s Keyword Planner tool to generate an initial seed list which I then plug into Traackr.

Here’s a screen shot of my initial list as ranked by Traackr (go here for more info as to how Traackr decides who to pick).

Traackr

So now I have my list. By clicking on the network tab, I now generate a visual map of the connections within my Influencer A List – it also shows me which people engage with each other in a meaningful way. Here’s a screen shot:

Traackr

The larger the circle, the more engaged that person is with others in the list.  You can see who influences who (in the sense of which person gets more resonance and engagement from others – and vice versa).

Here’s an example based on Euler Partner’s Phil Sheldrake. You can get insight into the structure and influence patterns of any individual on the list.

Traackr

It doesn’t take much to understand how this can have very practical use in PR and social media. By identifying where people sit in the network, you can use this topological information to plan who you should target and how you should target them. Sometimes it might mean going for the people who are most central to the network. Or you might identify people who are important bridges between two sub-groups of influencers.

I’m still exploring the possibilities of the tool. However, it is a great example of how network topology has practical uses in the world of social media and PR. Read more about it when Share This Too is published ;)

The Guardian: Effective Social Media Analytics – featuring Andrew Bruce Smith (+others)


The Guardian ran a nice piece on Effective Social Media Analytics by Danny Bradbury on June 10th 2013. Among the the top notch social media experts featured in the article were Phil Sheldrake, Marshall Sponder and Sharon Flaherty from Confused.com. Oh, and me ;)

I appreciated the opportunity to talk about some of my favourite hobby horses including social media ROI, financial vs non-financial outcomes and how to use Google Analytics to measure the value of social media. All topics that regular readers of this blog will be familiar with.

social media analytics

Why the current #CIPR Presidential election is so important for the PR industry


CIPR

I’ve worked in PR for nearly 26 years. For most of that time I studiously avoided joining the CIPR (or any other PR related membership body). Rightly or wrongly, I perceived the CIPR to be an organisation that didn’t really have much meaning for me personally or indeed properly represented the industry I worked in.

My attitude to the CIPR hit rock bottom around 2006 when an impression of lofty disdain was given out by the then leadership towards social media and digital communication (go here for a flavour of the times).

However, around 2010, things changed. The arrival of Jay O’Connor as President in that year seemed to signal a sea change in attitude. Initiatives like the CIPR Social Media panel were indicative that there was a far higher degree of relevance of the organisation to the wider world.

Since then, I have become a fully paid up member and have become much more actively involved in the organisation. The CIPR today appears to bear no resemblance to the body that I viewed as an irrelevance in the past.

 

So what has this got to do with the current CIPR Presidential election?

Well, a lot.

The person who takes over the presidency in January 2014 will be assuming the position at a significant inflexion point in the development of the PR industry.

Quite simply, if there is to continue to be such a thing as a PR sector, then it’s main trade body has to also justify its existence in terms of leadership, vision, meaning and value.

The CIPR President should have a key role in leading and representing PR professionals to the world.  One of the key challenges for anyone coming into this role is that I believe there are many PR practitioners who hold a view of the organisation similar to the one I held in 2006 – namely, they can’t see the value of being a member – or that the body doesn’t properly represent the PR sector as a whole.

If the CIPR is to continue to have meaning and relevance then it must also seek to bring in more of these unrepresented practitioners.

So what does this mean in of terms of the two candidates – Stephen Waddington and Jon White?

Both are worthy of the job. Both have excellent credentials. Both have put forward good cases so far.

But on balance, I have to say  it is Stephen Waddington who (for me) would be the best candidate to represent the CIPR given the context above.  Someone who will continue to keep the rapid momentum going behind the CIPR that has only really developed in the last 3 years.

If you are a CIPR member, then clearly I think you have a duty to examine the arguments of both candidates – and to vote.

But also, even if you are not a CIPR member, seriously consider joining now and have a real say in this election.

Even if you aren’t a member, you almost certainly know someone who is. Why not quiz them on their views of the election – and encourage them to vote. That way at least you have a proxy input to the process.

In summary, I don’t think it is an exaggeration to say that this is a pivotal election – both for members and non-members of the CIPR.

The winner of this election will not only play a big role in determining the future of the CIPR, but will also be a bell weather indicator of how the PR sector is likely to go over the next several years.

Voting begins on May 7th and closes on May 21st.

If you have the power to vote, then you should exercise it. And think about the implications for the future of PR when considering who you cast that vote for. There is a lot at stake.

 

PR, Penguins and Pandas


There was a great post from Chris Lake at EConsultancy this week entitled: Three reasons why publishers hate living in a post-Penguin, post-Panda world.

For those unfamiliar with Penguin and Panda, they were the code names for two major Google algorithm updates over the last 18 months. The easiest way to think of them is as follows:

• Panda = penalising websites with thin or weak content

• Penguin = penalising sites which have links from thin or weak content

EConsultancy.com is a very reputable site. So you might wonder why links from its content would incur the wrath of Google. According to Chris, it would seem that links from press releases published on the site some time ago may now be being flagged as possibly “dubious”.

As he explains: “What am I talking about? Dubious links, that’s what. Or should I say dubious links on a supposedly authority website (ours), that have been flagged up by dubious SEO tools. Emails with ‘please remove this link’ make our hearts sink.”

One of Chris’ complaints about SEO agencies is that given Google’s current view of links, they are now asking certain publishers (like EConsultancy) to change or amend links that have been placed there previously on behalf of clients because they believe they are now negatively impacting their clients’ pages appearance in Google’s search results.

The additional twist is that in some cases, the SEO firm is saying that if EConsultancy doesn’t remove the link, they will “disavow” it. In other words, they will effectively report EConsultancy to Google as a source of “dubious” links. And no one wants to be on Google’s naughty step (Chris describes it in more colorful language).

To put it in a PR context, imagine ringing up a journalist months (even years) after they have written an article and now asking them to remove things or change certain words “because your client doesn’t like what the article says now”. And if they don’t, you’ll have the journalist blacklisted.

You know what reaction you would get from a journalist. Is it any wonder that SEOs are getting a similar response from publishers and site owners in response to Google’s link warnings?

It is highly ironic that skills traditionally valued in PR should now command a premium in the world of SEO – namely, good relationships with real human beings who have the power to decide what content they run and who they link to.

As Ian Monk, the founder of Bathrooms.com put it this week in describing his firm’s PR SEO approach: “Our approach to links is best defined by a simple question we ask ourselves – would we target a link on this website if Google did not exist?”

Good relationships are at the heart of both good SEO and PR. We should never forget that.

Escherman Announces Solution Partnership with Nimble: social CRM for PR


escherman: Nimble Solution PartnerHot on the heels of our our recent Hootsuite Solution Partner agreement, we’ve just signed a Solution Partnership with Nimble, a Social Business Platform that combines relationship management and social engagement into an affordable web-based solution. It integrates LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google, email contacts and conversations into “one seamless, intuitive environment, empowering small businesses in today’s socially connected world to attract and retain the right customers.”

As far we know, escherman is the first UK consultancy to attain both Hootsuite and Nimble Solution Partner status. We think this a big deal for a number of reasons. Not least for the world of PR.

Joining the social media and social business dots: training, implementation and management

Consider this question: if PR is about managing reputation – and this is largely done through managing relationships with various stakeholders – why has the industry been slow to make use of CRM style technologies?  Admittedly, CRM software has been largely targeted at sales, marketing and customer service – but given you could easily replace the “Customer” in CRM with “Stakeholder”, why haven’t we seen more PR firms and in-house departments make use of tools like Salesforce, SugarCRM, etc?

Cost can’t really be an issue given that most of those tools are SaaS based and the cost per month per user is pretty minimal.

The truth partly lies in lack of knowledge of exactly how to use CRM tools in a PR context. And possibly the fact that these tools haven’t yet displayed any real integration with social.

So when Hootsuite and Nimble announced an integration partnership back in December of last year, the light bulbs went on here.

We’ve been using Nimble as our own relationship management system for some time.  Aside from being a very powerful system at an affordable price, we’ve always liked its emphasis on integrating social elements.  Now, with a direct integration with Hootsuite, we have the makings of a truly 360 degree view of key stakeholder relations and management. And at a price that won’t break the bank.

We think the fact that we are now official solution partners for both Hootsuite and Nimble puts us in a unique position. By combining our popular social media training services with the ability to help organisations implement a combined social media management and relationship management platform, we can help businesses more rapidly start to reap the benefits of social media – across all aspects of the process. Not least of which we have a particular speciality in understanding the needs of PR firms and in house PR departments. There are many ways in which PR and comms teams can benefit from understanding how to exploit the power of social media and social business – we’ll be posting more in coming weeks about how to get the best out of the combination of Hootsuite and Nimble.

In the meantime, click here if you want a free trial of Hootsuite.

Or click here if you want a free trial of Nimble.

And clearly if you’d like to talk to us about social media training and implementation generally, just email us.

(And don’t forget the social media and digital marketing training we provide via the CIPR).

Why Justin Cutroni’s post on Google Analytics and PR is so important for the PR industry – #pranalytics


Justin Cutroni is one of the acknowledged masters of Google Analytics, right up there with the godfather himself, Avinash Kaushik.  Currently an Analytics Analyst at Google, Justin has written a number of books on the subject – including one that had a big influence on my thinking: Performance Marketing with Google Analytics.  I’ve long followed his blog – Analytics Talk - and pointed people towards it on numerous occasions.

So when he recently published a blog post entitled Google Analytics for PR, I was very pleased. Dare I say it, excited. Here at last was someone with unquestionable web analytics expertise bringing their focus and attention to the world of PR. Not even Avinash has done that (to the best of my knowledge)

Given my long interest in the subject (as readers of this blog will know), I couldn’t not comment. However, my comment turned into a bit of mini-dissertation. So Justin suggested I post it as a full blog post rather than a comment. See below for my response to the original piece.  I’d certainly welcome people’s thoughts and views on this.

My response to Google Analytics and PR by @justincutroni

First, may I say how delighted I am that you have written about the relationship between Google Analytics and Public Relations. This is a subject very dear to my heart!

I’ve been banging on about the value of Google Analytics to the PR profession for years in the UK:

http://blog.escherman.com/2011/03/25/top-5-reasons-pr-firms-should-ask-clientsprospects-for-access-to-google-analytics-data/

It was Avinash Kaushik that opened my eyes to the possibilities back in 2008:

http://blog.escherman.com/2008/05/16/how-to-guarantee-a-successful-career-in-pr-for-30/

And your book (Performance Marketing with Google Analytics) was also a great inspiration ;)

(This next bit isn’t intended as a plug for me, but just to put some context on my analysis)

I have worked in PR for 26 years. I run training courses on Google Analytics for PR professionals for one of the main UK PR trade bodies – the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) – which represents around 10,000 PR people. The numbers of people attending these courses is on a rapid rise – and I get invaluable feedback from past attendees about how Google Analytics is proving to be hugely valuable in demonstrating the value of what they do.  I also work directly with organisations to help their PR and communications people implement Google Analytics (or more accurately, help them access and use the data their organisation is already collecting).

I thus have a pretty useful sample of how people are attempting to use GA in a PR context. Here are some of the challenges.

No goals, no insights

I take my cue from Avinash – why does your website exist in the first place? Such a vital question and yet often not answered, or at least not in a concrete manner. The start point for getting value out of GA for PR is defining goals (and associated values).  PR people often think that GA is only relevant to e-commerce sites – or that goals can only be defined in terms of sales. When they learn that any activity or event occurring on a site could be defined as a goal, their eyes light up. Imagine if the role of PR is to raise awareness of a brand or issue with a target audience. Persuading people to read content relevant to that brand or issue could be a proxy for awareness. So a simple URL goal with an associated value now means people can view the impact of their work through the lens of a meaningful objective. And far greater insight into what things really do lead to the result they want. Of course, there are even greater levels of sophistication that can be achieved – but even this simple step is often an eye opener for PR people.

PRs often struggle to get access to GA

Once PRs realise what they can do with GA, they get fired up and go back to their organisations only to find they meet internal resistance from those who currently hold the keys to the GA account (IT, marketing, etc). “What has this got to do with PR? Don’t you just write press releases?) The idea that a PR pro would want to start defining goals in GA and proactively seeking to prove their worth sometimes strikes people as odd or threatening (or both).

For PR pros working agency side, their requests for access to client GA data also meet with similar resistance (“why do you want to know?”)

In both cases though, it is important that PRs continue to push for access and for the right to define relevant goals that so they can begin to evaluate their activity (and value) in relation to meaningful communication and business objectives.

Stakeholders and custom variables

PR in its true sense is about managing reputation amongst a variety of stakeholder audiences eg customers, press, local communities, government, etc. When PR people learn about custom variables and how this opens up the possibility of tracking the behaviour of discrete stakeholder groups (set up in the right way), again, they get very excited. Imagine being able to view journalists visiting a site as a discrete audience – and being able to improve the journalist experience of your content – but based on real evidence rather than opinion.

Attribution analysis

When PR people learn about multi-channel funnels and attribution analysis, they can’t quite believe it.

When they learn that there is way for them to prove the direct and indirect contribution that their online PR and social media activity has with respect to a defined goal, you can hear the cheers ;)

Here is a common scenario. Senior management are sceptical about the value they are getting from PR and social media. They look at their web traffic and conclude that as search delivers 70pc of visitors, they are going move more budget in that direction.

Once you introduce attribution analysis, a different picture emerges. Online press coverage and social media often play an assistive role ie they may not directly translate into the immediate goal, but they are the vital first step in a multi-step conversion process. One client realised that a single piece of online press coverage from 3 years ago was still delivering visitors (albeit in small numbers) – but that virtually every single one of these visitors returned via a second or third visit (PPC, social media, etc) and bought something. Conversely, even though they saw people use 7500 different keyword terms to arrive at the site via natural search, only 24 of those actually resulted in somebody buying something. It brought home the importance of valuing the quality of traffic rather than quantity – and the importance of not undervaluing the contribution of PR and social media.

Apologies for the lengthy comment, but I absolutely believe that PR professionals everywhere owe it to themselves to learn more about Google Analytics and how (if used correctly) it can be an amazingly powerful aid to demonstrating the value of what they bring to the party. Let’s face it, PR has always suffered from an inability to prove its worth.

(Bill Gates once said that if he was down to his last marketing dollar, he’d spend it on PR. And if asked, most business leaders would agree that PR is the most valuable part of the marketing mix. And yet, that hasn’t – and still isn’t – reflected in PR budgets – at best it still on average represents around 10pc (at most) of a typical marketing budget – this is largely due to a traditional inability to demonstrate the true impact and value of PR activity.

Google Analytics may not be the Holy Grail of PR measurement, but at least it offers a far more robust opportunity for PR pros to prove their value than they’ve ever had.

So I appreciate someone with your huge influence in the area of Google Analytics bringing to bear your thoughts on its relationship to PR ;)

Here’s to more conversation in PR circles about Google Analytics (and measurement in general).

<<<<<<<<<<<

For anyone in the UK who is reading this, I’ll be speaking on the subject of Google Analytics and PR at the PR Analytics Conference in London on February 28th:

http://prmoment.com/PR-Conferences/pr-analytics-conference-2013.aspx

See below for one of Justin’s GA dashboards:

Google Analytics dashboard

Which journalists aren’t worth engaging with on Twitter?


Consider the following argument:

Most journalists are on Twitter.

PRs should therefore spend more time “engaging” with journalists on Twitter.

Seems to make logical sense (from a PR standpoint).

Except that just because a journalist has a Twitter account, loads of followers and Tweets for Britain, doesn’t mean that PRs should attempt to interact and engage with every relevant journalist on Twitter.  The reason being that some are far more likely to share your content and actually talk to you than others.

But how do work out which is which?

One way is to use a tool like Twitonomy.

For example, look at the following analysis of Charles Arthur, The Guardian’s Technology Editor.

charles1

Over the last two months, he has Tweeted (on average) nearly 55 times per day. From an engagement standpoint, he certainly seems to mention other people a lot – and 74pc of his Tweets are actually @ replies to other people. So as a PR, you might think this is a good way to have a dialogue with him (better still of course, would be to get him to follow you – then you can have private DM conversations).

However, Charles hasn’t shared that many links in the last two months – so the chances that he is going to share that press release of yours is going to be pretty low. He doesn’t ReTweet that much either – so don’t get your hopes up on that front.

Going back to Charles’ propensity to reply to people, Twitonomy also reveals who has had the most conversations with in the last two months:

charles2

Not may PR people in that group (Charles himself has already pointed out that he doesn’t think this tells us much – other than that the community of people he has talked to via Twitter over the last two months is pretty broad).

If you were determined to have a go at interacting with Charles, Twitonomy also reveals those times when he most likely to Tweet (and thus presumably be online and on Twitter):

charles3

Based on this analysis, 11pm on Friday night.

Clearly, you need to use these metrics with caution. These stats only relate to the last two months. Even if they did range over a wider time frame, how much you can actually infer from this is a moot point. And a cynic might argue that rather than poring over this kind of data, someone trying to get Charles’ attention would be better off investing their time in actually coming up with a decent story angle.

Having said that, I do think tools like Twitonomy – when used appropriately – can be a useful guide to PRs who want to work out the propensity of target journalists to share links, engage in dialogue and/or RT content.

And armed with this knowledge, PRs can allocate engagement resources appropriately. If the end result is better targetting and more effort in giving journalists more relevant and timely information, surely that can’t be a bad thing.

What do you think? Is there something in this? Or is it complete hokum? The comments box awaits your answer.

Using MajesticSEO TrustFlow for online press coverage targeting


Back in May 2012, SEO tools firm MajesticSEO announced a concept called FlowMetrics – this was broken down into two areas: Citation Flow and Trust Flow

Here’s how MajesticSEO describes them:

Citation Flow

Citation Flow predicts how influential a URL might be based on how many sites link to it. Because links are now not all created with equal weight – and because a strong link will have a relatively stronger influence on URLs further down the chain, you can see how much better Citation Flow is as a mathematical logic than the old metric of ACRank.

Trust Flow

We start with a large list off manually reviewed URLs. These have a crowd-sourced level of trust but by no means include all the trusted sites on the web. It turns out, though, that trustworthy sites tend to link to trustworthy neighbours. Those neighbours also tend to link to trustworthy neighbours themselves. In fact – after lots of iterations – those outside the circle of trust are put in the cold.  So Trust Flow, like Citation Flow passes THROUGH urls like sound passes through walls – with awesome effects.

 In short, for every domain or URL, you end up with a score from 0 – 100 for each metric. And that score is a measure of the possible relative value of that page or domain.

So what has this got to do with PR?

Here’s an example. Let’s compare two tech media sites – The Register and Computer Weekly.

MajesticSEO

 

As the table shows, The Register has a much higher Trust Flow score than Computer Weekly. Based on the definition above, this would suggest that pages on The Register site (on the whole) pass more SEO value from its links than those from Computer Weekly (and yes, there are all manner of other variables that need to be taken into account). But the purpose of the exercise here is to have a quick way of prioritising which media sites you might consider for targeting from a PR perspective (or specifically, sites that might deliver more value both in terms of the content being read as well as the SEO value that links from such content could provide).

Of course, FlowMetrics work at an individual page level. So each individual story will have its own associated Citation and Flow Metric score. It is perfectly possible that a particular Computer Weekly page may have higher Trust Flow score than another individual Reg page – but at the domain level, the Trust Flow score is designed to give an overall perspective on the general level of SEO value from that site.

So imagine this scenario.

As the PR, you are tasked with identifying the best places to get online media coverage. Or more specifically, links. And links contained in editorial.

  1. Select your top 10 media sites for your client
  2. Run them through MajesticSEO’s Site Explorer tool
  3. Rank these sites by Trust Flow
  4. Look at an individual site’s pages and see which have the highest citation and trust flow scores (this tells you something about the kinds of pages and content that people are more likely to discover – and may have implications for where you want to target your content placement. Or those stories that have the highest citation and trust flow scores – this may give you clues as to the kind of content that is most popular on that site – and thus influence your own content creation. Look at the Anchor Text breakdown for each site – this gives you an idea of the kind of text that people use when linking to that particular media site – generally, it will be fairly obvious or mundane (eg brand name, click here, etc)  But again, you might unearth some clues for your own content creation).
  5. Or what about picking stories from specific journalists and running them through Site Explorer to see what kind of Citation and TrustFlow profile those pages have.

As has been stated time and again in the last 12 months, Google has said it will give preference to links in editorial style content on high authority, high trust sites and pages.

We all know PRs should be the ones best placed to gain coverage and links from high authority, high trust sites. Using a tool like MajesticSEO should make the process of identifying where to target those placements even more effective.

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