Need to brush up on social media measurement? Now's the perfect time

September is Measurement Month, and an ideal time to catch up on social media data and analytics.

I’m rather encouraged and excited by how the world of news and communications is changing. At Cleveland Clinic, we are embracing that change and trying technologies and strategies to reach the right audiences, at the right time, and in the right place. Clearly, social media has become an essential tool for communicators and journalists alike. Making sure we are measuring PR and its impact in the social media environment is more important than ever.

Cleveland Clinic’s driving source of national awareness is news coverage, meaning that more people know about us from what they read about us in the news than from any other source. However, the vast majority of news is consumed from social media, mobile devices, and tablets. Although still important, traditional sources can’t remain our sole focus. So communicators must fully engage in social media and try new approaches to get their work done.

One significant upgrade we made was to the Cleveland Clinic newsroom, a place where journalists can get our latest news, op-eds, videos, photos, and more. We will increasingly use the newsroom to tell our "Cleveland Clinic story" in more innovative ways, measure its effectiveness, track user growth, and make adjustments as needed. This has also allowed us to better engage reporters and respond quickly to their needs as we make major announcements, such the recent news of our incoming CEO and president.

Using research, analytics, insights, and data greatly enhances your ability to establish the right PR strategy to achieve the best outcomes. For example, we recently worked with Time magazine on a powerful story about the first patient to receive deep-brain stimulation after a stroke to see if we could improve her quality of life. In this case, my team worked with Time to use its social media channels to share this story broadly. We know that Time is a key media outlet that reaches our target market.

This story reached an additional 14 million followers of Time, which is well beyond what we could have done alone to tell our story. We also know that organic followers of Cleveland Clinic are most interested in news and technology from our organization, according to Twitter analytics.

Measurement can also be daunting for creative thinkers. To get started, please learn The Barcelona Principles of PR measurement. Developed by a team of experts, this guides PR professionals on the basics of measurement. Those experts who are also involved with the International Association of the Measurement & Evaluation of Communication created an integrated framework for PR measurement. It’s a great tool to help PR pros get started.

I encourage you to work on measurement and know that it is an important aspect of demonstrating how and why PR is so valuable to your organization. Social media is a PR game changer, and we need to use it and measure it.

Eileen Sheil is executive director of corporate communications at Cleveland Clinic. She can be reached at sheile@ccf.org.

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